Forest health monitoring by satellite - low cost & high accuracy.
SKYLAB was asked to analyse 500 ha of pine forests to observe negative developments in forest vitality for an Australian customer. Initially the customer sent high resolution drone data and SKYLAB detected all dead or discoloured trees. Then we ran a satellite-based time series analysis using 3m resolution Planet data.
The resulting hotspot map shows almost all the same hotspots as in the drone analysis results! And where they don't match the negative change seems to have happened prior to the beginning of the satellite time series.
This means that satellite data can be used as a first level health monitoring tool. Once hotspots of low vitality are detected by satellite, aerial data (plane or drone) can be used for a closer inspection and automatic detection of individual sick or dead trees.
This helps to identify problems early and make better management decisions, for example for earlier thinning or harvesting operations in stands with poor health.