The uptake and barriers of geospatial technologies in New Zealand’s forest management sector.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelBachelors with Honours
Degree NameBachelor of Forestry Science
Geospatial technologies have developed rapidly in recent decades and can provide detailed, accurate data to support forest management decisions. Commonly used technologies include Global Positioning System (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies. Knowledge of the uptake and barriers of geospatial technologies in the forest management sector will be beneficial to the industry. This knowledge will provide a benchmark and can be used to overcome current barriers so that these technologies are fully utilised.
An online survey was sent out to 29 forest management companies within New Zealand. The survey was spilt into seven sections, composed of multi-choice and open-ended questions. These sections were demographic information, data portals and datasets, GPS receivers and remote sensing technologies. Four remote sensing technologies were included, aerial photography, multispectral imagery, hyperspectral imagery, and light detection and ranging (LiDAR). Each section included questions that asked about the acquisition, application and products created from each technology that companies used. Questions were also included that related to the barriers preventing the uptake of technologies. To determine the progression in the uptake of these technologies the results were compared to a study conducted five years earlier.
All 23 companies that responded to the survey used GPS receivers and acquired aerial photography. Multispectral imagery and hyperspectral imagery had an uptake of 48% and 9%, respectively. LiDAR had a 70% uptake. Common applications for the products derived from these technologies were, stand or forest mapping and assessment, harvest planning, cutover mapping, and site preparation or silvicultural mapping. The main barriers for companies not using geospatial technologies were the lack of staff knowledge and training, as well as the cost of acquiring the imagery. Some companies did not believe there were any benefits gained from acquiring multispectral or hyperspectral imagery.
The uptake of all four remote sensing technologies increased over the past five years. LiDAR had the largest progression in uptake, increasing from 17% in 2013 to 70% in 2018. In 2013, all aerial photographs were acquired using airplanes but the results from the survey have shown that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were used by 83% of companies. UAVs were also used to acquire multispectral imagery.
This study showed that there had been a progression in the uptake of geospatial technologies in the New Zealand forest management sector. However, there are still barriers that are preventing the full utilisation of these technologies and the results suggest that the industry could benefit from investing in more training relating to geospatial technologies. It is recommended that a similar survey is completed in another five years as the developments of technology are still occurring rapidly.