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Thiago Rizzo Batista

Director of Romiotto Measuring Instruments


Advances in geotechnology applied to forestry

The well-known geotechnologies go beyond the limits of their development and application science. Among the various productive sectors in which it is used, forestry is an activity that makes the most of the universe of solutions for different sectors of forest management. Everything it has to offer can be used to benefit forest management.

Geotechnology presents itself as a powerful tool, offering new ways to collect data, monitor forest ecosystems and make informed decisions. It is currently impossible to imagine that the management of a planted forest can be carried out without the use of this powerful tool.

Forest management has always made use of geotechnology tools, albeit in a simple way and without integration between systems. Giving up this feature would be like navigating without a compass. The registration of plots, through mapping obtained by topographic survey, often computerized on CAD platforms, can be considered the starting point of geotechnology in forestry.

At this point, even if incipient, when compared to the current moment, having a georeferenced base with basic registration information already helped operations and managers in decision-making in the development of activities. In parallel, the use of satellite images promoted a leap forward in the aggregate use of geotechnologies as a provider of information for forest management.

At this time, the time scale, determined by the interval between satellite surveys of the area of interest, was an issue to be faced, as in periods of great cloudiness, months could pass without a good image to work with. There was also the issue of spatial resolution, as high-resolution products were extremely expensive, and despite the difficulties in acquiring images with a good percentage of use, over time, the construction of scenic libraries allowed the incorporation of multi-temporal analyzes in everyday life. of forestry.

With the dissemination of automatic meteorological monitoring of plantations, which occurred in the mid-1990s, new layers of information began to be worked on within the Geographic Information System through interpolation tools. As a result, managers and users involved in silvicultural operations had access to a large volume of spatialized information that enabled cross-referencing between sources, simulations with different interpolators, the creation of productivity scenarios considering various conditions of soil, climate, relief, among others, thus opening a new field in forestry production.

Thanks to the evolution of computational processing that occurred in parallel with the massification of geoculture, let us remember that Google Earth appeared in 2001 and Google Maps in 2005, both popularizing people's access to maps, not only providing the forestry market, but also empowering people from different backgrounds, bringing other perspectives to the environment.

And it was exactly the diversity of perspectives that promoted advances within forestry. Results of research carried out both in companies and universities were absorbed through the use of new management and conservation techniques. Therefore, it is undeniable to say that geotechnologies are not just limited to providing data, they have transformed forestry, influencing the way forest management is carried out, maximizing returns, reducing costs, increasing productivity and optimizing processes.

The implementation of ecological corridors was facilitated through the use of spatial data, making it impossible to imagine the application of the landscape management concept without the use of geoinformation. I also mention advances in forest protection through multi-parameter analyzes in the identification and development of alert algorithms for eucalyptus pests and diseases, as well as in fire risk modeling. And we cannot forget water management in forest plantations, which is always a sensitive point and which, with the possibilities offered by geotechnologies, has become much more assertive both in terms of monitoring and in the development of its modeling.

At the end of the 2000s, the term precision forestry gained strength and permeated forestry research centers around the world. The expansion of satellite products, their lower prices and improvement in image quality, associated with the use of drones, the popular trend of the time, allowed information to be produced at any time, giving users more autonomy and reducing data production costs. From then on, the entire plot could be imaged and/or photographed, with its development monitored almost instantly.

Geotechnologies, the basis for a promising future in forestry: The drone as a tool is a major milestone in geotechnology. The possibility of providing each field team with a drone with an on-board camera has raised the level of geotechnology applied in forestry to a level never before experienced. Of course, this advance had to overcome issues such as the difficulty in processing so many captured images, identifying individuals and separating species through remote sensing techniques. These difficulties have increased with the emergence of onboard LiDAR sensors, which detail the space with millimeter precision, and the resolution of these demands has opened up many possibilities for silvicultural management , especially for forest inventory.

Currently, the state of the art of geotechnology applied in forestry is represented in the following uses:

• Geospatial Big Data: The explosion of geospatial data generated by a variety of sources, including remote sensors, mobile devices and monitoring stations, is driving the development of big data analysis techniques geospatial. This includes machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms for analyzing spatial patterns, forecasting and decision making.

• Geospatial Internet of Things: Integrating geospatial sensors into monitoring equipment creates an Internet of Things environment geospatial. This allows for the continuous collection of real-time data about the environment and individual trees increasing understanding of forest-environment interactions.

• Geotechnology for Artificial Intelligence: Geotechnology is being integrated with artificial intelligence algorithms for a variety of applications, including detecting changes in land use, identifying individual species and diseases from aerial imagery, predicting extreme weather events, optimizing operational resources, among others.

This quick review of the history of the use of geotechnology in forestry helps us understand how far we have come. There is no doubt that geotechnology has a huge role in the increase in forest productivity experienced today, whether in improving management, water and soil conservation, or in the use of regions previously considered unsuitable for forestry. This topic does not end here and as new challenges arise, new technologies will emerge, creating a virtuous circle of advancement, opportunities and improvement in the way we produce planted forests.