Remote Sensing Research Group

Southern Earth Observatory

April 18, 2018
by e29293

Estimating wildfire fuel hazard in dry sclerophyll eucalypt forests from UAV-borne sensing technology  

Classifying and quantifying fuel is complex and includes assessing a range of characteristics.

Fine fuel load has been considered one of the most significant fuel variables affecting the behaviour of fire and has been used to predict the rate of fire spread.

Tasmanian Ridgeway Site – dry schlerophyll forest with recent burn history.


Limited research has been conducted using UAV mounted laser scanners and cameras for the purpose of Structure from Motion (SfM) to measure below-canopy structure. Preliminary studies in native Australian forest stands have further demonstrated the use of UAV laser scanning and SfM to estimate various structural properties of a native stands. A research gap exists in assessing the accuracy of point clouds generated from UAVs in measuring surface and near-surface vegetation characteristics.

In order to address this literature gap, fieldwork (sponsored by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC), was conducted at a patch of native dry sclerophyll eucalypt forest located southeast of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. The objective of this work was to compare the accuracy of UAV SfM and UAV laser scanning in assessing height and cover. Direct measurements were taken within the plot as reference data. Terrestrial point clouds were also captured using terrestrial laser scanning and SfM as a further point of comparison. Analysis will commence in comparing these different forms of measurement to investigate the viability of UAV SfM and laser scanning in assessing fine fuel load.


Setting up direct measurement instrumentation.

Recording direct measurements of vegetation height and cover.

Research Fellow operating Terrestrial Laser Scanner in Tasmania














Researchers were given a tour of the TerraLuma – UAS Remote Sensing lab at the University of Tasmania

The collaboration used the UTAS UAS with airborne LiDAR sensor.



Text by: Samuel Hillman

April 6, 2018
by e29293

Mapping fuel hazard in Chile

A group of academics and HDR students from Geospatial science recently returned from field work in Southern Chile, exploring the use of Fuels 3D techniques in Chilean forests.

This, RMIT – University of Chile, collaboration extends the Bushfire and Natural hazards CRC project Fuels 3D, led by Professor Jones and Dr. Reinke, into the international realm. The Fuels 3D project has mapped and characterized fire landscapes in S

Pre-fire point cloud

E Australia, with these techniques being actively trialed by several state fire authorities and land management agencies in Australia. Chile faces similar wildfire threats to Australia and these techniques are of great interest to Chilean forestry managers and fire authorities as they develop risk assessment and management plans for large fires.

Post-fire point cloud









The group used terrestrial and UAV (RPAS / drone) based photography to capture 3D point clouds of plantations and native forests in Southern Chile. These techniques, developed by research fellow Dr. Luke Wallace, allow the reconstruction of 3D point clouds that can be used to extract fuel and vegetation structural information. As part of the research, the integrity and completeness of the point clouds is validated through intensive and extensive physical measurements of the forest structure using laser scanners and sample transects.

The field team: Franco Magni (U-Chile), Sam Hillman (RMIT), Liliana Guzmán (U-Chile), Chris Bellman – Simon Jones – Bryan Hally – Daisy San Martin (all RMIT), Jaime Hernandez (U-Chile)

Whilst in Chile the group presented at an international seminar “Percepción remota en manejo de bosques, conservación biológica e incendios forestales” at the University of Chile.


Drone view from Estación Experimental Justo Pastor León, mega fire February 2017 destroying the town of Santa Olga


Field site Pa-1, pine plantation burnt in recent fires

Site Pa-3 (unburnt pine plantation)










Native forest site Fr-1. Up to 100 overlapping downward looking images captured from a drone, such as this over a Chilean Native forest, can be processed to generate key fuel hazard metrics such as canopy base height, canopy cover and tree height.



Vulcan Osorno lava field site (Os-2)



Vulcan Osorno with details to the field location




Vulcan Osorno lava field site (Os-2)
The lava flows can be accurately dated to 1835 as observed by Charles Darwin on the 2nd voyage of the Beagle


Further information:

Text by: Simon Jones

February 13, 2018
by e29293

Engaging for Impact Conference – Industry Showcase

From the 13th to the 15th of February RMIT University will be holding the Engaging for Impact Conference: Academia and Industry Co-creating for the Future.

Today our team and partners gathered at the RMIT City Campus to present the project “LandFor For Land Management: Using satellite time series data to map forest disturbance and support land management activities”.

From left Liam Costello and Salahuddin Ahmad, representing DELWP; Trung Nguyen (PhD student at RMIT), Dr Mariela Soto-Berelov (Lecturer at RMIT), Dr Shaun Suitor (DELWP) and Samuel Hislop (PhD student at RMIT), attending the Engaging For Impact: Academia and Industry Co-creating for the future 2018


DELWP uses LandFor outputs to support efficient statutory forest monitoring and reporting activities and decision making in the land management and policy areas.

Our team has create a large area disturbance and recovery map using LandFor. We report the findings from the first project of its kind developed in Australia.

Check our poster with more information about the project.


Text by: Shirley Famelli

One evening and two awards at the 2017 Victorian Spatial Excellence

January 8, 2018 by e29293 | 0 comments

On the evening of the 1st of November 2017 our team members received two awards at the 2017 Victorian Spatial Excellence.

Professor Mark Shortis was recognised as the 2017 SIBA/SSSI Professional of the Year. SIBA is the leading association representing the spatial industry.

Over more than 3 decades, Professor Shortis has made outstanding contributions all areas of his activities, including research, teaching and service to the profession. In research, Professor Shortis has published more that 230 scholarly articles and collaborated with some of the leading research institutions in the world in his area of photogrammetry, such as the NASA Langley Research Center and CSIRO.

In teaching, Professor Shortis has helped shape the current generation of photogrammetry, spatial and surveying experts at RMIT University and The University of Melbourne, including serving as RMIT Dean of Academic Development for Science, Engineering, and Technology.

In other service to the profession, Professor Shortis has been a constant leader in Victoria and in the world, including being a founding member of SSI, a past ISV president, chairing working groups in ISPRS and FIG, and an organizer of the XXII ISPRS Congress in Melbourne, 2012.




The Fuels3D project team of Dr Karin Reinke, Dr Luke Wallace, Prof. Simon Jones, Samuel Hillman, Daisy San Martin, Christine Spits and Bryan Hally was recently awarded the Victorian Spatial Excellence Award for Environment and Sustainability.

Fuels3D is a new tool for capturing information about fuel hazard in sensitive and fire-prone areas.Fuels3D combines everyday smartphone technology with the latest cloud-based 3D analytics, to generate real-time information about the level of fuel hazard.
Monitoring and quantifying the level of fuel hazard in our natural environment has critical implications for safety, biodiversity, and resilience. For example, information about fuel hazard is fundamental to understanding the success of fuel reduction interventions.Conventional approaches to monitoring fuel hazard either require high levels of human expertise and high costs (such as manual visual assessments and 3D laser-scanning) or are unsuited to small-scale assessments in canopy-covered areas (such as airborne or satellite remote sensing). In contrast, Fuels3D enables non-expert users to make accurate, low-cost, quantitative, and real-time fuel hazard assessments via their smartphone.



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