University of British Columbia (UBC) is using drones to look at the impact on B.C. forests after the worst forest fire season in the province’s history.
“The 2017 wildfire season was the worst fire season on record both in terms of overall area burned, as well as the largest single fire British Columbia has ever seen,” said Jeremy Arkin, one of the students working on the project and a UBC masters student in forestry.
The research team, Nicholas Coops, UBC professor of forestry and his students are working with FYBR, a Vancouver-based drone company.
“We are working on a range of sites in B.C. that address the needs of the forest industry. We have some spots on the coast where we’re going to be taking inventory of high-value timber, and in the Interior where we are capturing the 2017 fires,” Coops said in a statement.
Images taken with the drones will be used to make 3D models of the affected areas. This will be able to provide detail that satellite imagery and other surveying techniques can’t provide.
“Drones are a really exceptional technology that we’re starting to use more and more of: we can observe the effect and severity of the fire on each individual tree and use all this information to really understand the general patterns in which fires occur in B.C.,” Coops said.
It can be used for “other information like how much timber is left standing? Can that be salvaged and the condition of the dead timber? Whether that’s likely to be a good habitat for animals in the future?”
Patrick Crawford, FYBR CEO, said this is one other use for drones in a world that is turning towards using technology.
“I think just like a lot of industry today, big data and machine learning is key to how businesses are going to be optimal in the future,” he said.
“Drones are another tool to gathering huge amounts of data to better understand how our forests grow [and] how our world is changing.”
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