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Airborne scanners put native vegetation on the map

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Airborne sensor technology able to gather information about what is visible on ground, such as vegetation, and what is not visible, such as canopy condition and plant water use, has been developed, trialled, and proven.

The airborne imaging and vegetation analysis system is a significant breakthrough for rapid and cost-efficient collection of natural resource data.

The new technology combines laser scanners and hyper-spectral scanners with other technologies, such as digital video, under the wings of a special aircraft to gather data from large areas faster and more accurately than before.

Rural research and development corporation Land & Water Australia funded the project, which involved researchers from the Flinders University Centre for Airborne Research, the University of Adelaide and Anhalt University in Germany.

The researchers were led by Dr Jorg Hacker of Flinders University Centre for Airborne Research, who said the technology gave the best possible spatial resolution and information about the condition and structure of large areas of vegetation. 

For this kind of data collection, there is no better combination of airborne instruments. You choose when, where, and even how close you fly to the vegetation, and you can cover whole catchments in one day. It is also ideal for surveying difficult-to-access areas, such as Adelaide’s coastal mangroves,” said Dr Hacker.

During trials the technology was used in a range of capacities all over South Australia. These included comparing the performance of vines under different irrigation at Waikerie, mapping regenerating native vegetation at Monarto, and mapping wetland vegetation around mound springs in the north of the state.

The technology has now been used in several other research projects. Among them is a Land & Water Australia funded study of gully erosion in tropical Australia, which resource management groups in the region identified as a high priority. Finding the extent and shapes of gullies and surrounding vegetation, previously done on foot with a global positioning system in hand, can now be done in half a day’s flight.

As a direct result of the activities of this project, this widely applicable technology will soon be permanently available to Australian scientific and professional communities, after a successful application to the Australian Research Council for support to purchase and set up a complete and current system in Australia.

Contact:         Bruce Wright, Land & Water Australia   (02) 6263 6000    

                        Dr Jorg Hacker, Flinders University      0418 857 115


Citation

Land & Water Australia. 2009. Airborne scanners put native vegetation on the map. [Online] (Updated May 26th, 2009)
Available at: http://lwa.gov.au/node/3422 [Accessed Thursday 24th of October 2013 11:26:33 AM ].

id: 3422 / created: 26 May, 2009 / last updated: 26 May, 2009