Forest technology: Sustainability on the go |

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – The adoption and use of new portable tools has literally changed people’s perspective of the world. To help maintain the planet’s ecosystems, forest landowners are using technology to collect crucial conservation data on the go.

forest technology

In today’s ever-evolving technological universe, you can think of artificial intelligence, automated systems, and smart devices. These examples are adopted every day in the agricultural industry. However, did you know that the same technology is used in forest management?

Anyone who knows agriculture or forestry knows that time is the most valuable commodity. To save more of this valuable resource, homeowners can use an arsenal of tools to collect data more efficiently than ever.

“The evolving technology in forest management makes our time more deliberate and efficient,” said Beau Brodbeck, a forestry specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “At the end of the road, this ensures that we have more sustainable forests.”

Forest data tools

There are a wide variety of tools available to Alabama forest landowners. Each benefits all forest landowners in a specific way. Whether the desired output is a strategy for timber harvesting or a real-time map for hunting camps, there’s a modern tool for the job. Some examples of current forestry technology are listed below.

Geographic information systems

In the past, geographic information systems (GIS) were often too expensive and sophisticated for widespread adoption. With the rise of modern smartphones and tablets supporting an increasing number of mobile applications, they have bridged the gap between complexity and performance for consumers.

After a short crash course, any homeowner can use this readily available, low-cost and adoptable technology to better manage their property. Mapping roads, ponds, wildlife food plots, logged timber, or natural forests has never been easier or more accessible. Timberland owners can even determine acres of different forest types or landscape features using aerial imagery without ever leaving the comfort of their home.

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Brodbeck said that most forest management plans today include a GIS component. This map allows foresters, landowners and timber buyers to spend less time and resources inspecting properties.

DronesUnmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, are one of the most popular new forms of forestry technology. From aerial imagery to prescribed burning, there’s a drone for the job. Some of these machines are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, making them perfect for navigating through the woods.

UAS systems are typically used in forestry to monitor pests and diseases, property features such as roads and ponds, as well as wildlife food plots. One of the most beneficial uses of drones is to create current maps using aerial imagery. This results in images similar to popular satellite imaging platforms, but drones provide a unique advantage.

“Now we can use drones to stitch together images of properties on a small and large scale,” Brodbeck said. “This is similar to satellite imagery, but with a drone you captured your image yesterday and the final product is as accurate as it gets.”

Brodbeck also said this new type of imagery is beneficial to forest landowners if they have recently logged timber or have been affected by storms, pine beetles or wildfires.

the vanguard

There is no debating that technology changes every day. As a result, it can be difficult to keep up with the constantly changing world of technology. It’s important for homeowners to stay current so they can find new ways to use technology and data to save time and money.

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“Things are constantly evolving and changing,” Brodbeck said. “Being on the cutting edge is usually an expensive place. However, as the technology becomes easier to use, the cost tends to come down and it becomes adaptable and adoptable for us.”

The value of technology is not always at the forefront, according to Brodbeck. The research is on this edge, but it is often what follows that has management implications in the field.

The future of forest technology

As the growth of technology outpaces the growth of most trees, time is used more efficiently. Gone are the days of spending multiple days collecting data. For Brodbeck, technological advancement has made his daily operations even more enjoyable.

“I’m a second-generation ranger and have always loved working in the wild,” Brodbeck said. “It’s a wonderful industry to work in and Extension allows me to translate data and technology for forest landowners every day.”

More informationDo you want to know more about how to use technology in the management of natural resources? Check out the limited series on technology and natural resources at

Down to Earth: Agriculture Sustains Alabama

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