Tim Lucas Forest Management


News about my work as a forestry consultant, with the occasional comment about other matters.

More timber measurement. More snow.

Having spent the best part of last week sitting inside, you would be forgiven for thinking that I had plenty of time to write something meaningful and informative to post here.

Although you would be very much right in that respect, I spent my time instead on doing some work on a last minute SRDP forestry grant - the next assessment round is imminent - and sitting in front of the PC doing GIS work. 

The GIS work involved remapping the forest where I was measuring timber a few weeks ago.  At that time, I encountered a few problems while in the field: the stock map was wrong in some areas; stands planted with the same species at the same time were of variable quality ; and windblow had occurred in patches of varying sizes. 

Seeing as the aim of the work was to predict future timber production with as much accuracy as one can without going too mad on the cost, my client (the management company that manages the estate's forestry) agreed that I should use an aerial photo together my site notes from my previous visit to address those problems and improve the stockmap.

The picture below shows a work-in-progress view of the new stock map with an aerial image of the forest behind it and my site notes and timber measurement plot locations overlaid on top. That latter data was gathered in the field using a mapping app and my phone.

Remapping a forest with Quantum GIS, aerial imagery and field notes collected using a mobile phone app. 

Remapping a forest with Quantum GIS, aerial imagery and field notes collected using a mobile phone app. 

Once that was done - it took a good five hours to amend and redraw the original subcompartment record - I took the new plan out into the forest to check it and add some more detail (the age of the windblow and whether there was any value left in the timber).   

The manager also wanted to know whether there were any areas of native trees that could be retained when the rotation ends and the crop is clearfelled, so I was to look into that too.

Fine weather.

Fine weather.

Although the snow had cleared from Foyers, there was still a substantial amount on the ground in the hills of the Monalaidths. I posted a picture from this same location on my last visit to this forest before Christmas.  In that one the view is mostly obscured by a passing snow flurry.  Apart from the far superior weather  - evident in the clear skies of this picture - snow still covers the ground here.   

Snowy rides.

Snowy rides.

The snow was quite deep in places and the ground soft and boggy underneath, making wellies essential. 

It was quite tricky moving around the forest at times, with soft ground, deep snow and windblown timber leading me to expect a refreshing face plant at any moment....

January sun shining through a stand of Scots pine at 11 in the morn'.

January sun shining through a stand of Scots pine at 11 in the morn'.

There was not much time to dally and I had a fair bit of ground to cover so I just kept moving, checking the new map and making notes as I went. 

As the photos show, it was a bonny day to be walking in the wood.

My mapping work with the aerial turned out to be quite accurate - helped by the fact that I was doing it after already spending three days in the forest laying down the timber measurement plots - so I did not find many places where substantial editing would be required.   

However, attending to the other tasks took some time, so I need to go back there before I am finished.

Ideally, I would being doing this tomorrow as the work has already been delayed, what with the uncommon snow showers before Christmas keeping me away for days at a time.  Unfortunately, the weather has suddenly turned wet and this is very much a job that gets done better when it is a little drier.  The forecast is for further unpromising conditions for the next few days so I will be staying in and processing my field notes and getting ready to return later in the week.