ForestTECH 2023 Student Competition

This year Tools for Foresters, The Forest Industry Engineering Association and Forest Growers Research set up a student competition for the New Zealand leg of the ForestTECH 2023 series. A selected number of students from the University of Canterbury and Toi Ohomai conducted their own research projects on different methods for conducting tree survival surveys using UAVs.

Three forestry students presented their research at the ForesTECH 2023 conference, with the winner, Whanarua Edmonds, taking home a DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise care bundle valued at $7000, marking the end of the inaugural student competition.

Funded by the Precision Silviculture Programme, led by Forest Growers Research through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Fund, the competition aimed to address the lack of standard operational procedures for using UAVs to collect tree survival data.

The students were tasked with writing a report, a standard operational procedure (SOP) and making a presentation about one of the collection methods. The report and SOP were judged before the conference and will be shared with industry through the Forest Growers Research and Tools For Foresters websites. The presentation was judged on the day, with input from conference attendees.

University of Canterbury Bachelor of Forestry Science student Blake Singleton looked at survival assessments using multispectral orthoplotting, Toi Ohomai Forest Management Diploma student Jake Emmens assessed using RGB orthoplotting, and Toi Ohomai’s Whanarua Edmonds looked at 100% site captures with high-resolution imagery.

Edmonds said he descends from a long line of bushmen with him being the fifth generation to work in the forest industry. While the journey was challenging, he says he is stoked and grateful to take the win.

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Masters Research Project – Operational use of UAVs for post-thinning assessments

Post-thinning assessments were noted as one of the top areas that industry were wanting to see SOPs developed for. Under Tools for Foresters, a Masters project for the operational use of UAVs for post-thinning assessments was funded and completed in 2022.

Atman Dhruva studied the optimal flight parameters to conduct post-thinning assessment. By evaluating image overlap and altitude with an ‘off-the-shelf’ UAV, Dhruva evaluated a post-thinning site in Hawke’s Bay, provided by Pan Pac. The thesis was submitted earlier in 2023 and a journal article is expected to be published.

Dhruva also presented some of his findings at the ForestTECH 2022 conference.