Enhanced Forest Inventories (Chief Scientist Vlog)

NRCan’s Canadian Forest Service uses state of the art technology to gain a better understanding of Canada’s forest inventories.


(Donna Kirkwood) So today I’d like to show you an example of how our scientists use the most up-to-date satellite technologies and how they integrate them to develop the forest inventories that will inform forest operations and sustainability in Canada and elsewhere.

Science as Evidence: Enhanced Forestry Inventory

Scientists at NRCan are using Light Detection and Ranging (or LiDAR) to collect detailed terrain and forest information about Canada’s forests. LiDAR is a laser emitting device that is attached to a satellite or an airplane. The pulses of light sent out from the device allows scientists to collect data about a forest. For example, using LiDAR, scientists can determine how tall trees are within a certain area, based on the comparison between the pulses of light that hit the canopy of trees and the light that hits the ground.

By compiling the information collected from LiDAR along with other data, scientists are producing enhanced forest inventories of Canada’s forests. These enhanced forest inventories are being used by industry and provinces to inform their decision making on forestry operations.

Before a forest company begins operations in a remote area, they can use the enhanced forest inventories to determine the density, volume or canopy height of trees within the area, how well a forest is regenerating, and/or the type of terrain or obstacles they will encounter during an operation (such as roads, rivers or potential landslide locations). Moreover, provincial governments and agencies can use the information for other purposes such as in planning for the construction of roads or infrastructure through a forested area, or to make decisions about regulating or zoning a forest within their jurisdiction.