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It was bound to happen.  Precision farming
applications are being developed for forestry,
spawning a new field called "precision forestry".  In
spite of all the rhetoric of sustainable development,
precision forestry plays right into industrial
agriculture, unsustainable corporate forestry,
monoculture tree plantations and GMO trees. It also
plays into the carbon trade and sequestration and
"environmental services" eco-technocrat bandwagon

Here's the USDA's take:

http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/ag_systems/in_focus/precision_if_forestry.html

"Because trees are not the only landscape feature
distinguishable from satellite imagery (one can see
water, grassland, brush, rocks, and so forth),
detailed measurements of land features can be used by
many types of land managers and policymakers. In
addition, as remotely sensed data are combined with
digital terrain data and ground-based inventory data,
a detailed landscape picture can be formed."

"Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) uses laser
sensors to analyze forests in a 3-D format to generate
the vertical structure of forest canopies, as well as
the topography on which they reside. With tree height
and canopy information, it is possible to readily
estimate tree diameter and biomass, among other forest
characteristics. Biomass estimates are important for
projecting carbon storage. Because wood is a primary
economic resource, much effort has also been placed in
estimating timber volume and value and allocating
parts of each tree to its optimal wood products. These
estimates allow landowners to manage forestlands more
effectively and to reduce waste as wood goes to the
proper processing mills."

Oh, and there's a symposium coming up in October:
http://www.cfr.washington.edu/research.pfc/symposium05/

The event's overview says:

"Precision forestry employs high-resolution data to
support site-specific decision-making. It provides
highly repeatable measurements, actions, and processes
to initiate, cultivate, and harvest trees, as well as,
enhance riparian zones, wildlife habitat, and other
environmental resources. It provides valuable
information linkages between resource managers and
processors. Precision forestry will support the
development of precise forest plans that can be
implemented accurately and subjected to rigorous
review."


Here's something about remote sensing applications in
precision forestry:
http://philler.scs.gmu.edu/vaccess/research/PrecisionForestry.htm


I can imagine the use of sophisticated multi-spectral
satellite imagery to monitor carbon sinks in the third
world.  These sinks can take up anywhere from
thousands to even millions of acres of land, making
them a new focus of land disputes and environmental
conflict in the not too distant future.  Such
satellite imagety will be employed to ensure the
"efficient" administration of vast monocultures of
genetically engineered trees and privatized elite
nature reserves (for ecotourism, biopiracy and
high-priced export organic agriculture). Welcome to
the world of militarized, postmodern, neoliberal
ecology.


=====
Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero
Director, Proyecto de Bioseguridad http://www.bioseguridad.blogspot.com
Research Associate, Institute for Social Ecology http://www.social-ecology.org/
Senior Fellow, Environmental Leadership Program http://www.elpnet.org/

http://carmeloruiz.blogspot.com



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