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Using GPS to conduct regeneration surveys

Forestry Tasmania conducts regeneration surveys on all areas of regenerating forest. These surveys are the measure of how successful our regeneration works have been, and also provide the information from which a forester determines whether any additional regeneration treatments are required.

Screen display for the Browsing Management PDA For each hectare of regenerating forest, 5 survey plots of 2.26 m radius are established. On each plot, the number of seedlings present is estimated, the existing basal area is measured and an assessment of the seedbed condition is made. Approximately 40 000 of these plots are assessed annually.

In the past, individual plot data has been captured on field sheets and then transcribed onto an electronic spreadsheet once back in the office. The spreadsheet was then used to generate summary data. The forest officer then manually plotted the individual survey points onto a map to generate a spatial representation of the regeneration survey results. From this map, any understocked sections that needed follow-up work could be identified.

With the introduction of GPS technology, spatially referenced information can now be captured immediately against each regeneration survey point. This information can then be simply uploaded onto Forestry Tasmania’s Geographic Information System, in which summary calculations can be made and a map instantly generated. This process saves considerable time and reduces data-entry errors.

The technology was used for the first time this financial year and proved to be a resounding success: 16 761 plots were assessed on 80 coupes, approximately one-third of the year’s regeneration survey program. In coming years, it is expected that a larger proportion of the regeneration survey program will be conducted using GPS technology.

Pictured: Training field crews in the use of the in-field computer

Training field crews in the use of the in-field computer