Resource assessment using remote sensing (FFR/Scion)


  • Considerable advances in remote sensing technologies have occurred in recent years; LiDAR and satellite data are more readily available and their cost has decreased.
  • They have been adopted by overseas forestry companies and other NZ land managers, but NZ forestry has lagged behind.
  • The challenge is how to make best use of these new data to augment or replace existing forest resource assessment procedures and improve efficiency of forest valuation.

Potential benefits

There are potential cost savings but the real benefit of improved resource assessment is the value of improved decision making through access to better information, for example:

  • Improved detection/delineation of pests and diseases
  • Improved estimates of the timber resource and forest asset valuation
  • Better stratification of the resource allowing targeted management or harvesting
  • Assessing variation in tree size and wood properties.


Research has focused on uses of LiDAR and Rapid Eye satellite imagery for forest inventory, tree height and wood quality assessment, forest health, and terrain assessment for engineering and harvest planning.

Case studies to determine how LiDAR and RapidEye can be integrated into the inventory systems of two major forest companies will be completed by June 2013.


LiDAR is cost effective for inventory and forest engineering purposes and LiDAR data are now routinely collected by forest companies, e.g. for development of digital terrain models.

Many companies are now using RapidEye data s to predict tree heights, assess harvest areas and to assess the impacts of wind, snow and disease. At $0.02 c/ha versus $1.50 plus for conventional aerial photography the savings are significant.

Equations developed by Scion to determine the minimum LiDAR pulse density needed for different applications are being used operationally by forest owners to minimise costs.


As a result of this research and extension, LiDAR and Rapid Eye technologies are now being adopted by forest companies.

Access to better resource information will enable more efficient planning, better decision making and the ability to demonstrate the impact of management on estate value more efficiently.

This research has the potential to revolutionise the way resource assessment and forest valuation is undertaken.

Home About Us Archive The Case for Research Archive - Research Sustainability – Resource assessment using remote sensing (FFR/Scion)