Forest-mapping company Carbomap has collaborated with aerial imagery service provider l'Avion Jaune S.A.R.L and research organization Institut de recherche pour le developpement to complete a canopy height model of the Amazon rainforest using data from a LiDAR system that is ready to be equipped on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The organizations say the project focused on the Paracou experimental forest site in French Guiana, which is located on the north Atlantic coast of South America. YellowScan, a laser scanner intended for UAVs developed by l'Avion Jaune, was employed for the task.
According to the organizations, data for the canopy height model was collected by mounting the YellowScan system on a manned helicopter. The helicopter then replicated the flight parameters of a typical UAV and provided proof-of-concept for the method.
UAVs, the organizations report, are well suited for this type of work. The flight altitude of UAVs is lower than that of a normal surveying aircraft, which helps to overcome problems of cloud and atmospheric interference in the rainforest. UAVs also fly at lower speeds than normal aircraft, meaning that a much higher point density can be achieved.
‘The exciting prospect here is that it demonstrated how a UAV LiDAR can map rainforests in 3D on the landscape scale,’ comments Iain Woodhouse, CEO of Carbomap. ‘The UAV LiDAR approach offers a low-cost alternative to sending people into the field to make measurements, yet it provides much higher detail than can be achieved with satellites.’