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Can drones help sustain our global forests?

Drones are flying high these days–used to deliver packages, take aerial photography and conduct military surveillance.

Now, researchers at the University of Georgia are testing whether these drones can rapidly and reliably estimate post-harvest woody residues.  What’s that you ask?

That is the waste or debris left over after a forest has been responsibly harvested and includes everything from pine needles to branches that could potentially be used as a source of biomass fuel. The goal is to separate this valuable debris from other materials–such as mineral soil, vegetation and forest floor litter–in order to accurately calculate how much of it exits and confirm whether it could be used for fuel or other purposes. Government regulators, for example, often recommend specific quantities of residues remain on site after a harvest in order to provide important wildlife habitat or to sustain forest site productivity.

The National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) is helping to sponsor the drone research. To learn more about the NCASI and its work on this and other sustainability initiatives for the forest and forest products industries, click here.

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