Can we use satellite imagery to monitor how forests recover after wildfires and harvests? TrentU MsC student Griffin Williams explains his research

Griffin Williams, from London, Ontario, is currently conducting research for his Masters of Science in the Environmental and Life Sciences program at Trent University.

Griffin’s project uses satellite imagery to monitor the recovery of forests in northern Ontario after they have undergone a disruptive change, such as a harvest or a wildfire.

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It is common to measure the initial changes of forest landscapes when they have first been affected by a change….

However, less attention has been spent on monitoring the recovery of the forest over longer periods.

Griffin’s research will help forest managers monitor their resources and improve their ability to effectively manage their forests!

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Griffin’s research involves collecting Landsat satellite imagery for the Kenora forest management unit in northern Ontario.

Some of these images are almost 40 years old and date back to 1980!

Griffin is using images from each year to create a time series from 1980-2018.

From the time series, he can observe and track changes to the forests based on the changes that occur when trees were burned or harvested. After identifying a change year, subsequent years can be analyzed to look at the forest recovery.

Griffin’s research shows that forest changes can be detected with a high accuracy using Landsat imagery.  His research also shows that forest recovery can be successfully modelled from an operational perspective.

This can help enable forest resource managers to improve how accurately they manage their forests and can help promote sustainability in forestry resources.

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This project has the potential to serve as a forest monitoring tool for regional forest managers, which can help promote the sustainable management and allocation of Canada’s vast forest resources for years to come in a manner that is both cost-effective and more efficient than current practices.

Griffin says that during his undergraduate study at Trent, he was fortunate to be involved in the planning and execution of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle survey of some forested land around Trent University. This unique opportunity gave him hands on experience with state of the art equipment and software, greatly enhancing his undergraduate experience and helped to pave his way towards graduate study.

Thanks so much for sharing your research with us, Griffin!

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