by Andrew Bennett, Science & Technology committee chair
photo courtesy Domtar Corporation

“I’ll never get a cell phone.”  I remember when I confidently uttered those words to so many of my friends back in my college days, but sometime before I graduated in 2003 I was the proud owner of a flip phone.  Fifteen years later, it is hard to exist in this world without some sort of cell phone…and you are in the minority if you’re running a business without a “smart” phone.  As the saying goes…my how times change.  I don’t care how old you are, change is never something we necessarily look forward to embracing; however, technology seems to be one of those things that we have to either get on the “train of change”…or we will be left at the station (perhaps get run over).

It would seem that it often takes time for technology to trickle down to our world of forestry and us normal folks.  We’ve been hearing about drones for a couple of decades now.  But as I just mentioned, the trickle has reached our world and we’re hearing more and more about the help that drones could provide for us in forestry.  Drones are being used for a multitude of things within our sector – monitoring forest health, monitoring harvesting operations, direct planting of seedlings, monitoring seedling planting survival, assessing storm damage, providing aerial photography, applying pesticides, and more.

Getting back to the title of this article – Can drones change the way we file Farmland Assessment Paperwork?  Probably not…unless you begin employing a drone to make deliveries to the local tax assessor.  But, it sure sounds like there is an opportunity for drones to change the way we do parts of our job in a more safe and efficient manner.  And as a simple application question – how many times have you come to an area of a large property you manage during an inventory and been surprised to discover more Hurricane Sandy damage?  I know we have on more than one occasion.  Perhaps a drone could have helped us discover that area of damage more quickly.

For some other examples of drone use in forestry, click here: