Aerial Analysis Play a Major Role in Forest Management

When they are not well managed, forests are often unhealthy and unproductive because of overcrowding, disease, insects, and competition for light, water and nutrients. To maintain or improve the health and productivity of a forest and to achieve the landowner’s objectives for the property, foresters use a number of management techniques, including thinning, harvesting, prescribed burning and reforestation.

Viewing a field of wheat or peas is as easy as walking out into the field and looking down. Forests on the other hand are often viewed from the bottom up even though evidence of disease often begins at the top where it’s difficult to view. Now though, Pixel Airways makes studying the forest from the top down much more affordable. Property owners can now view their investment in a variety of ways that help make more informed decisions and planning such as:

  • High resolution aerial images that are the equivalent of 1 to 2 inches per pixel
  • Plant health maps that measure the chlorophyll output to reveal problems while they can still be remedied.
  • Elevation maps that help with drainage and other factors that effect the forest.
  • 3D land maps give owners a virtual reality view of their property that can help with road plotting, building placement, and other planning.

Here are three major products used in forest management and how to interpret them.


Images shown a small sections for illustration

Plant Health Map

The images to the right are the results of analysis of plant health using certain reflective light in a color model. This makes it easier to quickly identify healthy (green) and areas where health might be of concern (red). The far right image highlights some areas to look at. From here we can import this information into Google Earth and because each pixel has a latitude and longitude designation, you can walk out to the exact area of concern for direct field study.


Click images to enlarge them for detail.


Click images to enlarge them for detail.

Aerial Map

Now that you have some features of interest in the Plant Health map, you can then get a reference of specific areas to see if the red is a road, dry grass, or the specific plants of concern. Note that some images reveal parts of trees that are dying or flagging.

In the process of creating these maps, hundreds of high resolution images are created by flying a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) over the forest in a grid pattern. These overlapping images are then stitched together. The results are a contiguous view of the forest. You’ll see some warping of the image due to the stitching process. The goal here is not to see the beauty of each tree, but the health characteristics of areas of the property.

High Resolution Images

Although not part of mapping package, all the high resolution images that were use are available if the property owner wanted to see highly details areas without having to go out into the forest.

Green isn’t always “good”

In the highlighted area in the maps to the right, it would appear that the lower part of this valley has a group of trees of concern on the left and some very healthy trees on the right. When the trees on the left are of concern, so are the trees on the right. The aerial image clearly shows a groups of young trees very tightly spaced. Proper management would probably dictate that some thinning take place in the young trees to get the fastest growth and a healthier environment.

Google Earth

In the end, we recommend that you put boots on the ground and compare these maps to the real world. You can do so by importing the maps above into Google Earth on a laptop. Here’s quick tutorial on how that’s done: .