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How Mobile GIS is Revolutionising Forest Inventories

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Protecting the hills, regulating streams, providing habitat for fauna, and producing that little thing called oxygen are all on a forest’s to-do list.

It’s tough being a forest and these jobs are just the tip of the iceberg, so how can we help them out and ensure they thrive?

Comprehensive forest management and sustainability largely depends on the quantity and quality of information available. This information or data is obtained from forest inventories.

Recent advancements in technology have already begun to improve the accuracy and efficiency of forest inventories, with the impact of emerging geospatial technologies still being realised.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are location-based tools that aid in the collection, analysis and visualisation of accurate data. Visualising this kind of tree data enables key stakeholders in the forestry industry to make informed decisions.

Forest managers, regional planners, arborists and conservation biologists need forest data to create actionable intelligence on the health and state of the trees.

With drastic developments in mobile phones over recent years, data collection, field mapping and mobile GIS have meant creating forest inventories has never been easier.

Below are several features some mobile mapping GIS and data collection tools have that can help revolutionise forest inventories.

Offline GPS Tracking

Offline GPS tracking is perfect for recording the exact movements of field workers. The offline component enables the device to be used in any remote location without internet access.

Mappt™ is a mobile GIS and data collection app, built for field workers that need to create, edit, store and share geospatial data. Mappt’s offline GPS calculates distances, helps workers to find targeted areas faster and provides evidence of the ground that has been covered. The offline GPS tool can be switched on and will work in the background while you get on with the rest of your data collection.

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Drop Down Forms and Points, Lines and Polygons

The digital revolution is in full swing and the need for paper is diminishing. Environmental workers now have the power to use devices such as tablets or even phones to easily take notes on specific points, draw lines and view this all this information visually on a digital map.

Mappt enables users to create detailed descriptions in customisable ‘drop down’ forms. Field workers can enter detailed or simple options on aspects such as tree diameter, height, observations, conditions, eco-zones, political or property boundaries, species, population, and any other characteristics.

Once these forms are created, the user simply selects the correct answer from the list as opposed to typing it in each time. These forms save time, reduces repetition and can cut down human error.
Mappt splitting tool

Geofencing

When conducting a forest inventory, serious consideration of boundaries and borders is needed to ensure data is accurately represented in each respective area. Mappt has a ‘geofencing’ tool which allows users to mark out areas that field workers should not disturb, such as wildlife habitats, heritage land or sensitive sites. It can also be used to simply mark out the area you should be working in to assess a specific rehabilitation zone.

If a boundary is breached, an alarm will sound and an alert will display to stop workers in their tracks. Mappt will also log the event according to date, time and distance.

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geofence

Geotagged Photos and Map Annotation

Mappt enables field workers to take geotagged photos using the device the app is running on. This photo is then saved and geotagged on the map to the exact spot it was taken in.

Users then have the option to annotate the photo in-app for further data clarification. Using a pen tool, filed workers can draw on an image to (for example) circle areas of unfamiliarity or highlight where a sample was taken from. Users can also add shapes and text to the map itself both in satellite view and street view to highlight physical characteristics of the forest or draw attention to damaged forest areas.

Mappt annotations

 

The Future is Mobile

Mobile phones, tablets and handheld devices now have the capability of full sized desktop computers. Bolting a GIS onto your mobile device makes them an invaluable and powerful tool for undertaking forest inventories or any other kind of field work and data collection.

Due to the sudden advances in these technologies, many businesses operating within environmental and forestry industries are falling behind as they’re not realizing the potential savings these technologies can provide. Time is money and without the use of applications such as Mappt, the forestry industry is at risk of becoming an inflated production.

GIS field data collection software make creating forest inventories fast, smooth and simple. Some of Mappt’s other features include; importing and exporting various kinds of geospatial data; thematic mapping; cached Google Maps; and WMS and WFS feed capabilities.

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Ssiobhan-profile2iobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.