Second Largest Forest Products Company Realizes Multiple Benefits from LIDAR and Ortho Imagery
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Second Largest Forest Products Company Realizes Multiple Benefits from LIDAR and Ortho Imagery

September 13, 2007 -- The use of LIDAR in forestry applications has been relatively slow to develop operationally. However, increasingly forest products companies are finding that high-accuracy, high-density aerial LIDAR data combined with multispectral, ortho imagery is particularly suitable for forest inventory and monitoring, harvesting forecasts and timber growth as well as optimization of transportation routes.

One of the leading forest products companies in South America is making a major commitment to the use of LIDAR and imagery and realizing significant benefits to their operations. Forestal Arauco S.A. ( is the world’s second largest cellulose producer and one of the largest forestry enterprises in Latin America in terms of surface area and yield of its plantations.

In February 2006, Arauco contracted Digimapas Chile Aerofotogrametria Ltda. (DMCL), Santiago, Chile, to acquire, process and map 7,500,000 hectares (almost 30,000 square miles) of aerial LIDAR and ortho photo data of forested areas in Chile. Dr. Markus Rombach ( Email Contact), director of Digimapas Chile ( said “We started the operational mapping in November 2006 and can reach a monthly production of approximately. 450,000 hectares (about 1800 sq. mi.). So far we have mapped approx. 2.5 million hectares of a total of 7.5 million hectares to be delivered to Arauco during the next year.” On a weekly basis, Digimapas is delivering digital terrain and surface models (DTM, DSM) of one meter post spacing; LIDAR intensity images; true ortho images in RGB and CIR; and LIDAR wave form data.

“The quality of the data is superior to the specifications given by Arauco,” said Dr. Rombach. “They are using our data for updating their general forest inventory. Special applications are: Erosion prevention, forest quality supervision, road planning for tree extraction, infrastructural planning for new plants and transport roads, strategic information for investments in new properties and much more.”

The project manager at Arauco in charge of the LIDAR and ortho photo mapping is Sergio Gonzalez ( Email Contact). “After considerable technical research, airborne laser scanning and high-resolution digital photography was the selected technology for data acquisition, due to the cost-effectiveness in terms of accuracy, resolution, speed of productivity. By August 2007, about 25,000 square kilometers has been mapped. One meter resolution DTMs and DSMs, half meter resolution true orthoimages in visible and CIR range are being obtained and used operationally by several branches of the company,” said Mr. Gonzalez.

Harvest planning is one of the areas to benefit most from the mapping. “Due to the topographic conditions of Arauco’s forested areas, mostly hilly and steep terrains, harvesting is one of the most expensive tasks within the plantations life cycle,” said Mr. Gonzalez. “One of the limitations of the harvesting machinery is the terrain slope; some equipment is suitable up to some slopes and some to others. The high resolution DTMs from Lidar provides harvest managers much better planning of their operations, minimize the over sizing of the machinery to be used, taking better care of environmental protection issues and improving the levels of safety for personnel in the field.”

“Road construction is a major task that benefits from the use of Lidar elevation models. Better knowledge of the terrain topography gives a better chance to do a more cost-effective road construction in terms of improvements in the design and lowering the environmental impact.”

Gonzalez continued “Another important branch of the company receives strong support through the products of the lidar project is the Forest Fires Protection units. Emergency dispatch centers can make much better decisions since they are based on geographic information of a much higher quality. Improvements in “time of arrival to fires” and also in the amount of the dispatched resources. These improvements will mean important savings not only for the decreasing damage ratio of the forests, but also for less costs of insurances and forest fire programs.”

Digimapas is using the Harrier 56/G3 aerial LIDAR/Imaging system from TopoSys GmbH, Biberach, Germany. Dr. Rombach said the reason they chose the TopoSys system is because “they have over ten years experience developing the technology and in Lidar data acquisition. The Harrier 56 is designed for 24 hours, 365 days per year of operation … because there is no mechanical wear-out it can stand years of operation in helicopters and airplanes.”

“Another advantage of the TopoSys system is that it comes with it’s own software that handles all pre and post processing … right through to final deliverables such as DSM’s, DTM’s, true-digital orthos, and intensity images.”

TopoSys is a leading LIDAR service provider and sensor system manufacturer for more than 12 years in Europe. They have developed a line of LIDAR/imaging systems: Falcon III, Harrier 56 and Harrier 24; complemented by TopPIT, the pre-and-post processing software that streamlines the entire workflow from pre-flight planning to final deliverables.

The traditional deliverables the systems generate include: The three key advantages that TopoSys brings to the table in this, as well as any, LIDAR mapping applications are:
  1. Complete turnkey LIDAR/Imaging system, which includes GPS, IMU, data storage, flight planning, LIDAR and the RGB/CIR camera offers the ability to collect high-resolution, multispectral imagery and high-density, precise LIDAR data sets simultaneously. Additionally, the German-engineered, space-frame construction results in the most stable, durable and dependable LIDAR/Imaging systems.

  2. TopPIT, the pre-and-post processing software that streamlines the entire workflow from pre-flight planning to complete final deliverables. The high-quality data from the TopoSys sensors streamlines and automates the creation of traditional deliverables and value-added products.

  3. 12 years of practical application experience as a service provider is built in to the development of systems, software and support for TopoSys customers’ LIDAR mapping business.
The Harrier 56/G3 with integrated digital mapping camera can generate precise, elevation and multispectral image data simultaneously in one flight. In addition to the standard products of the Harrier 56, several application-oriented data products such as canopy models, multiple echo difference models and volumes are easily generated.

As well, the following stand- and tree-related parameters can be extracted directly from the LIDAR and image data: As natural resources become increasingly valuable, not only economically, but socially and environmentally, the stewards of these precious resources will demand the best information available to ensure the economic, environmental and societal benefits into the future. LIDAR and digital ortho imagery will go a long way to providing this necessary information.

About Arauco:

Celulosa Arauco y Constitución S.A.
Arauco is one of the largest forestry enterprises in Latin America in terms of surface area and yield of its plantations, production of market kraft woodpulp, and production of sawntimber and panels. It is organized into four strategic business areas: Forestry, Woodpulp, Sawntimber, and Panels. Its commercial offices and widespread network of agents world-wide allows the company to sell its products in over 50 countries.
Celulosa Arauco y Constitución S.A.
Av. El Golf 150, Piso 14
Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
Tel: (56-2) 461-7200, Fax: (56-2) 698-5967, Email: Email Contact

About Digimapas Chile:

Digimapas Chile Aerofotogrametria Ltda. was founded in 2005 by Dr. Markus Lothar Rombach and Guilherme Brechbühler Pinho to serve the Chilean demand for high precision spatial data as for example, digital surface and ground elevation models, high-resolution imagery and other value added map products.
The headquarter is installed in Chile’s capital Santiago, having access to all necessary human, intelligence and hardware resources. Sophisticated and highly specialized staff members from Chile, Brazil and Europe form the present team.

Santa Victoria 41, Santiago Centro, Santiago, Chile
Ph: +56 2 6657811 & 6345357
Email Contact

About TopoSys:
TopoSys Topographische Systemdaten GmbH was founded in 1995 as a spin-off of Dornier GmbH, one of the world’s leading air- and spacecraft manufacturers. Building on its long-standing expertise in the development and production of fiber-optic LiDAR scanners, TopoSys is committed to the manufacturing and worldwide marketing of turnkey LiDAR systems that include three newly developed products: Falcon III, Harrier 56 and Harrier 24. TopoSys offers a well-balanced family of sensor systems, allowing its customers to deliver all LiDAR applications from precise, wide-area topographic mapping to high-density corridor mapping. In February 2007, TopoSys North America, Inc. was established as a wholly-owned subsidiary with North American headquarters in Denver, Colo. For more information, please visit:

Roland Mangold
Director, Business Development
TopoSys North America Inc.
4600 South Ulster Street,
Denver CO 80237-2882
Mobile: 720-934-2482
Phone: +1-888-438-1208

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