We can learn a lot about a forest using the technology on our smartphones. We can estimate ground and canopy coverage, measure tree height and diameter, and fly drones that map the extent of restoration areas. Since monitoring forest restoration is a critical part of measuring impact, we’ve been working with our partners at the University of Florida and Visayas State University, Philippines, to identify cost-effective tools that can be used to scale up monitoring efforts anywhere in the world. The research is part of our Google.org-funded project on monitoring and Artificial Intelligence.
From 18 to 24 June 2022, our Monitoring Coordinator, Dr Daniella Schweizer and Dr Eben Broadbent from the University of Florida ran a workshop for members of Visayas State’s Institute of Tropical Ecology and Management. Participants learned how to use various smartphone applications to estimate ground and canopy percent coverage, create digital inventory plots, and estimate tree height and diameter. They then integrated these tools with acoustic sensors, camera traps, and drones to enhance the monitoring of biodiversity and biomass in restoration areas.
As a trusted partner to this project, Visayas State University will continue monitoring forest restoration using these technologies and share the data and insights with Restor. The data generated will be used, among other things, to train a model that automatically detects tree crowns, and to develop an approach that uses sounds and images to assess species diversity.