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CASE STUDY

Natural Resource Agency

Aerial Imagery Meets the Needs of Ontario's Enhanced Forest Resources Inventory

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) Forest Resources Inventory (FRI) Program provides forest industry and resource managers with a snapshot of the state of the forest. This information is used to support a number of key business needs and applications, including forest management planning, wood supply and habitat analysis, and provincial reporting.

Today’s users of the FRI require more current, timely and effective inventory data as applications dependent on the FRI become more demanding and complex in terms of their data requirements. To meet these increasing demands, the enhanced FRI Program proposed using high resolution, digital airborne imagery and image products to produce the FRI.

The imagery, acquired with Leica ADS digital push-broom sensors, together with existing information, is used in the production of the FRI. Using imagery combined with GPS, the OMNR is locating and establishing field calibration plots, which are used to assist in the interpretation and classification of the imagery in producing the FRI.

The two-dimensional orthoimagery is being used to assist in developing a supervised water classification, and it contributes to information for forest management planning activities, mining, energy, green energy, and tourism.

Imagery was also collected for the measurement of the Permanent Forest Inventory Photo Plots and to support the measurement of the Permanent Forest Inventory Ground Plots. This information will be used to monitor change in the inventory and to provide information to improve the estimation of the inventory attributes.

As the OMNR distributed the imagery to their contractors, industry, and government agencies, they realized the capabilities and benefits of this collected information.

The more accurate imagery has enabled FRI to implement a supervised water classification system that allows for an entire forest unit to have an updated water layer within six months.

The resulting water layer can then be implemented immediately into the generation of forest cover attributes. With this increased accuracy and the reduced level of effort required, the cycle to generate a forest inventory has been significantly reduced, resulting in a more cost effective means to generate inventory information. Additionally, the capture of the four-band, 16-bit data, has increased the ability of their contractors and staff to accurately identify the forest cover attributes.

The digital airborne imagery and image products are assisting FRI in producing a suite of more accurate and cost-efficient inventory products. The greater the accuracy they can achieve in their inventory products, the more useful they will be to the end users and the greater benefit they will realize from this investment.

“By using more accurate imagery, and thereby improving the accuracy of the inventory products, we can increase the confidence our end users have in our products, so that ultimately they will be able to make better decisions regarding the province’s natural resources.”

Geordie Robere-Mcgugan,
Inventory Development Specialist,
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

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