|Dr Ross Hill|
Dr Ross Hill, Reader in Geoinformatics in the Centre for Conservation Ecology & Environmental Change, recently co-chaired a highly successful international conference. SilviLaser 2008 was the 8th international conference on LiDAR applications in forest assessment and inventory. This was held in Edinburgh on the 17-19 of September, and attracted more than 170 participants from all over the world. This event provided an informed discussion forum on the state-of-the-art in laser applications in forestry that attracted scientists, commercial foresters, and system developers.
The two day event included 44 poster presentations and 38 oral presentations which were grouped in six thematic areas:
• forestry applications & inventory;
• data fusion;
• ecological applications & habitat mapping;
• waveform LiDAR;
• algorithm and techniques development;
• terrestrial laser scanning and laser cameras.
Presentations covered all forms of laser system, from all possible platforms, and across a full range of forest applications. Discussions covered the recent developments in laser systems and data processing techniques in order to meet a range of information needs. The conference encouraged new and stronger linkages between LiDAR practitioners, and in particular between researchers, data providers and end-users of derived products. The invited keynote speakers at SilviLaser 2008 were Professor Richard Lucas (Aberystwyth University), Dr Wesley Newton (U.S. Geological Survey) and Professor Ralph Dubayah (University of Maryland).
The conclusions of this conference were that:
• Laser applications are expanding worldwide. The
sheer number of participants in this event, which
really exceeded the best expectations of the
organisers, proved the large interest that this
technology is developing worldwide.
• Data fusion between LiDAR and other datasets
such as radar and optical systems provide the most
powerful source of information in recent times for
understanding and monitoring fundamental
processes in vegetated systems at a variety of
• Laser scanning is not just a measuring tool but also
an important source of information for testing and
implementing operationally a variety of models and
tools that need spatial information. The
combination of LiDAR, other sensors and models
can expand the rage of cartographic products that
can be generated.
• Participants were also informing about different
national programmes in countries like USA,
Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria or Switzerland,
were the next generation of forest inventory are
going to be mainly based on airborne LiDAR. In
parallel, global monitoring of vegetation is going to
benefit from the launch of a new large footprint
waveform sensor on board of the ICESat II satellite
and the NASA DESdynI initiative for combining
• GIS companies are looking at the mapping
capabilities of laser to derive cartographic products.
Therefore, it is anticipated that most of them will
start to incorporate new tools in future releases of
their software. It looks like this disruptive
technology is now becoming a main stream tool for
the spatial data industry.
The complete proceedings can be downloaded from the conference official website at Forest Research in: www.forestresearch.gov.uk/silvilaser2008.
A selection of the best papers has been earmarked for a special issue of the International Journal of Remote Sensing that will be published in 2009, that will be edited and compiled by the SilviLaser Co-chairs Ross Hill and Juan Suárez (or Forest Research)