27 February 2022

Application of drones in forestry

Forestry drone

Client characteristics

The total area of the world’s forests is about 3,999,134 thousand hectares. The mean forest cover in relation to the Earth’s surface is about 30.6%. The countries such as Russia, Brazil or Canada have the largest forest area, in which the area is 20%, 12% and 9% respectively. In Poland the total forest area makes up nearly 30% of the country’s area.


Especially nowadays, when our ecological awareness is growing, we are beginning to notice how important trees are to the Earth’s ecosystem, and thus the State Forests and private forests. Thanks to their ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, we are provided with access to clean air, and also an essential raw building material. Unfortunately forests are exposed to multiple harmful factors, which is why conscious forest management begins to play such a huge role, and hence regular monitoring of forest areas.


What problems is the client struggling with?

The emission of carbon dioxide, which is growing with each year, causes the temperatures all over the world to rise, and this results in intensification of the global warming effect. We hear more and more about wildfires caused by droughts, that occupy huge areas, leading to their destruction, posing threat to the lives of not only people but various species of flora and fauna.

drones for forests

Water, which is essential to the life of every organism, is exploited in enormous amounts. Poorly regulated river “tides” are also a significant problem. Too much freshwater ends up in the sea instead of being stored for river basin irrigation. Low level of hydration puts more stress on plants that are becoming more and more susceptible to all kinds of parasites and fungi (e.g mold, mistletoe and bark beetle). 

  • Mold – the most common type of m gray mold. It is characterized by a gray coating on the bark of trees.
  • Mistletoe – it is a parasitic plant. It carries out the process of photosynthesis on its own, but it takes the remaining essential ingredients, such as water, from its host, i.e. the tree.
  • Bark Beetle – it is a type of insect that most often attacks trees that are already weakened and in recent years even young and healthy trees. A bark beetle infection can result in massive deforestation.

forest pathogens

Under normal conditions, plants coped with parasites on their own, by covering them with resin. The lack of adequate amount of water means that the trees are not able to the right amount of it. 

Wood is the basic natural material, and its importance is growing quickly. Sick or infected trees lose even up to several quality classes. It means that they are not suitable, for example, to make structural beams out of them. Another effect of infested or diseased trees is a lower value of the raw material, which equates to lower earnings. In order to solve every problem presented above, forest monitoring is used.


What problems can be solved with the use of drones and appropriate software?

Forest monitoring with the use of drones is nothing more than observing and analyzing the state of vegetation of plants growing in the forest from a bird’s eye view. It helps in the process of assessing the extent of damage caused by natural disasters or pests. Foresters have for many years used satellite imagery to monitor forests, however data collected by drones has a significantly higher resolution, therefore it is becoming more and more popular. Dynamically developing drone market proved more and more interesting and reliable solutions that improve forest management. Drones and specialized software based on artificial intelligence ensure quick acquisition of relevant data such as: location of fires, calculation of the area under fire, as well as determination of the health of the tree. It is a significant aid in the process of forest management.


Traditional inventory of trees is time-consuming and is based on statistical methods. Photogrammetry combined with ML (Machine Learning) gives us reliable information and the process of data acquisition for a given area is three times faster than compared to traditional methods. Thanks to modern technologies, the human’s role is limited only to choosing a method, determining appropriate parameters and lastly controlling the results.

forest view from the drone

One of the most common types of tree parasite in the continental region is the mentioned bark beetle. One of the most popular indexes used in the fight with this pest is Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI). It uses near infrared and red bands to determine the health condition of plants. This makes it easy to identify an area with diseased or dead trees.

In order to quickly and efficiently manage forests, BZB UAS has developed an algorithm for automatic classification of forests eforest.xyz. It supports foresters on a daily basis in time-consuming tasks such as tree inventory. The program purchased via a subscription is available for the client at any time, so that he can upload appropriate data, which will then be automatically analyzed by the system. The report provides the client with information on the number of trees in a given area and their parameters (sick, dead, healthy).


What are the advantages of using drones in forestry?

Undeniable advantages of using drones in the field of forest monitoring are savings in: time, human and financial resources, as well as protection of the natural environment.

BZB UAS, using drones in combination with artificial intelligence, helps foresters to accelerate the decision making and the process of taking appropriate decisions that protect the forest. Drones help with inventory, detecting pests, determining tree condition and calculating the area of regions affected by natural disasters. Thanks to the use of drones it is possible to collect data from large areas and also from hard-to-reach places. The need for human resources is minimized, and consequently costs are lowered.

Forest monitoring with the use of drones is necessary in order to protect the world’s natural environment. In the age of climate change it is especially important to accelerate decision making and act quickly to be able to minimize and prevent the effects of climate change. Click here and learn more about our services for forestry.

Case Study

In order to better illustrate the use of drones in forestry we present to you an example of cooperation with the Regional Directorate of State Forests in Zielona Góra. Data was collected with the use of drones and a manned aircraft equipped with our proprietary photogrammetric container. This data was later used to identify trees inhabited with bark beetles. The process of identification of infested trees was based on previously mentioned NDVI index and RGB images. Trees were divided into two categories: dead trees and in the early stages of decay. Allocation to a particular category was based on the color of the tree’s crown. Dead trees, that are characterized by the color change of their needles to a burned orange, were easily detected by the low-chlorophyll sensitive NDVI index. During conducted research on the area of 430 thousand hectares, 62 thousand potentially infested trees were identified. After the results were submitted, the indicated areas were carefully examined and the diseased trees were removed. The effectiveness of the indication was estimated at 85% by RDSF in Zielona Góra. 

drone raid areas

The use of advanced technologies is an attractive alternative to the methods traditionally used in forestry. The work of foresters is accelerated, because they can focus only on examining areas indicated by the system. Data collection is becoming possible even on large areas with additional time saving. The use of this method allows for quick detection of pests and accelerated response.

Contact us and see how to use drones in forestry