Watching Trees from Space

With forests measuring in the millions of acre space just in the United States, it has always been difficult to correctly monitor and check up on trees. There’s just far too many, that it would be a full time job for thousands of people to keep track of. So while the information is nice to know, it just isn’t practical to devote that much manpower to it. But with satellites and imagery taken from space, we are starting to see a new way emerge that could shave the monitoring of millions of acres of trees down to a single person every once in a while.

Combining satellite pictures with various algorithms that will be capable of counting the trees in the images is leading to a new way to obtain the demographic information needed to assess what kind of foliage population we have in the world and how healthy it is. This new level of demographic information, which is far more concrete than the previous methods of guessing based on a few trees and the amount of room they seem to take up, is leading to new ways to register what kinds of trees we have, their sizes, and even how healthy they are.

Over the past few years most of this technology has been utilized by the SilviaTerra company, which is a new firm based on forestry analytics. They have been utilizing cheap computers and simple algorithms to comb through countless amounts of data, and are leading the information revolution for foresters and tree lovers alike. They believe that not even a decade from now we should be seeing any information on a single tree in one forest should be only a mouse-click away for anyone. And they may not be wrong as more people devote energy and money toward this new way of keeping track of forestry information, especially for places like national parks.