Landsat for Sustainable Forests (LandFor) CRCSI Project 4.104
Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) has built Australia’s only state level public land based forest inventory via the Victorian Forest Monitoring Program (VFMP). Initiated in 2010, the VFMP provides baseline data for long term trend detection and prediction of future changes, supporting statutory reporting obligations as well as forest policy and management decisions, and Victoria’s performance towards sustainable forest management. It was built on an extensive network of plots and includes three tiers of data collection: ground plot information, aerial imagery, and satellite imagery. Ground and photo plots, which represent less than 1% of the public forest estate, are revisited every 5 years; while satellite imagery are used to support estimation processes. The Landsat for Sustainable Forests (LandFor) project enhances the VFMP and supports its strategic development by using the freely available Landsat image archive to build an annual stable image base and create an archive of disturbance events (e.g., logging, fire) that allows trends to be consistently detected and tracked for the last 30 years. By integrating LandFor outputs with ground based data, LandFor is building a toolkit that allows annual state-wide VFMP maps to be generated, showcased through an exemplar variable (biomass) that is validated with LiDAR data.
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. Fuels3D, built on the Android platform, will allow land managers to rapidly collect imagery in the field, and uses computer vision and photogrammetric techniques to calculate measures of fuel and severity metrics.
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.
Fire surveillance and hazard mapping
The study has been improving the accuracy of vegetation monitoring for flammability, as well as saving critical man hours, through the development of a beta smartphone application (Fuels3D).
Outcomes will enable satellite measures of fire activity to be made, which in turn have the potential to inform or support efforts in bushfire response planning and fire rehabilitation efforts. A particular focus is on the analysis of data obtained from Himawari-8, which is able to provide updated imagery on a 10 minute basis.
The project is currently using simulations and real world experiments to determine the accuracy with which fires can be detected, their temperature and shape determined, for a range of landscapes.
The project is also creating new techniques and protocols for the rapid attribution of fire landscapes (pre- and post-fire). These techniques seek to add quantitative vigour to existing fuel hazard estimation practices.