Joanneum Research, Austria

Description of Research Activities in Styria, Austria

It is the overall aim of EUFODOS to develop Forest Downstream Services (FDS) that are urgently required by regional European users in an economically viable manner and utilise the GMES Land Forest Core products as sound basis for the development of these services. The specific FDS in the Styrian testcase which will be developed to an operational level are related to assessment of forest damage and mapping forest functional parameters. 

The FDS programme is based on 3 foundations: technical/methodological developments; the formation of a functional Service Network (SN) including effective involvement of the user community, the service providers and the research community; and the assessment of the economic feasibility.

A set of GMES Land Core Products from the Geoland2 project will be used as input data for the forest downstream services. The Forest Core products that will be used in the Styrian Testcase are:

  • EL-04a EUROLAND – Forest Area. LMCS Forest Area, comprising Forest - Non-Forest information. Initially from FTS Forest, to be integrated into LMCS.
  • EL-04b EUROLAND - Forest Update. LMCS Forest Update - mapping of 4 forest type (coniferous, deciduous, mixed forest and other) classes.
  • EL-05 EUROLAND - Forest Density. LMCS Improved Forest Layer - mapping of pixel-based flexible forest density.

EUFODOSThe ability to utilise these products as inputs to the FDS and thereby demonstrate the potential for value-adding of the GMES Land Core is central to the development of the FDS. The SP JR and its users identified the products as pre-requisites or basic inputs for the production of their services.

For storm damage assessment the major challenge is the fast mapping of a sudden sever change after a single dedicated event. Thus not the mere possibility of the identification of the damage is crucial but provision of the requested information as fast as possible after the event. 

For forest functional parameters, time is a less critical factor, since regular update of the information in the range of 1 to 5 years is usually sufficient. Here the necessary development focus is on a qualitative increase of the provision of wall to wall information for a variety of structural indicators such as vertical stand structure, tree height or small gaps by the fusion of satellite remote sensing and ancillary 3D information derived from LIDAR data.

Expected benefits for Forest Downstream Service Developments

The use of space- and air-borne sensor platforms allows data to be acquired at short time intervals and in a cost effective way. To increase the benefits from the new systems some research activities are foreseen, because new systems have different technical and processing requirements. For instance, an assessment of windfall damage could be derived from RapidEye data faster and with lower costs than by multiple helicopter flights or field trips. Data from this new sensor type will be investigated and the research results incorporated into the RSG and IMPACT SW packages. The second sensor type to be investigated in this study comes from LIDAR. There are some parameters which can not be derived operationally yet. For these parameters, such as e.g. canopy volume, research efforts have to be undertaken and the results will be incorporated into the processing line. The research results for both applications will thus enable the operationalization of the FDSs in order to derive fast and reliable information for effective damage assessment and sustainable forest management on a regional scale. Based on these results the data can be utilized by the users in envisaged applications, as there are:

  • Effective damage assessment and countermeasures:
    identification of windfall damaged areas in order to enable proper countermeasures, compensation payments and reforestation planning
  • Sustainable management of protective forests:
    targeted management of protective forests in order to maintain and enhance their protective function against natural hazards

Service Partners

Joanneum Research