Treemetrics takes forestry measurement to a new level
For much of the past 100 years, forest measurement techniques changed very little, and to take accurate measurements from a sufficient number of sample plots is inevitably labour intensive.
Typically the tools of the trade consist of a girthing tape to measure diameter at breast height, a hypsometer to measure tree height and, more recently, electronic calipers connected to a portable computer which speeds up the recording process.
Over the past few years, Cork-based forest technology company Treemetrics Ltd has developed a completely new system of forest measurement that is now gaining international recognition for its considerable accuracy.
Using sophisticated laser scanning equipment, Treemetrics can not only measure the volume of a stand, but also assess tree form, taper and stem straightness before a saw goes anywhere near it.
Previously, these features could only be established after the tree was cut.
Started by foresters Enda Keane and Garret Mullooly in 2005, Treemetrics now has a staff of 15 people comprised of foresters and software engineers, and its systems have been tried and tested as far afield as Australia and South America, as well as closer to home.
James Jones, the largest sawmilling group in Britain, has expressed interest in the Treemetrics system. This follows an independent large-scale study across a number of forests in Britain that found the system had a margin of error in the range of just 0.9-1.5pc. By comparison, manually based systems would normally have a margin of error of 10-15pc.
One aspect of management planning, and measurement, that has bedeviled foresters is the difficulty in maintaining informative, accurate maps.