The increasing competition within the forestry domain requires an optimisation of processes and communication. In addition, there are end-to-end application scenarios, where the performance of the participating stakeholders is still severely impacted by technology-related gaps imposed by the constrained and remote environments within forests.
We propose an integrated solution combining assisted and augmented satellite navigation and positioning as well a satellite communication further combined with Earth Observation (EO). The Service provides Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) corrections via satellite communication in order to improve availability, accuracy and integrity of the position determination for users in remote and constrained environments. The EO data complements the service in order to provide the required reference; statically in form of elevation maps as well as dynamically in terms of near real time data of e.g. wind throw.
The proposed service shall close gaps currently existing within two end-to-end processes within the forestry domain. Both processes suffer from a lack of availability and insufficient accuracy of position determination as well as a lack of up-to-date geospatial reference data.
Users and their needs
Users and stakeholders can be sub-divided by the tasks they are performing in the forest or with respect to the forest, their intention and financial interest and their economic strength and capabilities. This leads to the following five categories of users for satellite-based services and technology in the forests:
1. Small private forests
Private forest owners with less than 200 ha of cultivated area
2. Large private forests
Private forest owners, but also e.g. associations of forest holders, and national forests with a forest ownership larger than 200 ha
e. g. surveying offices, Forestry Offices, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry
4. Service providing companies
Forestry companies, transport companies for timber / wood products, forest experts and forestry consultants, forest engineers, , tourism
5. Emergency services
e. g. THW, fire departments, police, ambulance service
Use cases and services require positioning information with accuracy better than one meter with a high level of local availability and a reasonably level of availability over time.
Most of the use cases require data communication with a high level of local availability and a reasonably level of availability over time. The required bandwidth varies from small data volumes for the transmission of position information to large data volumes for the transmission of up-to-date geo-information images.
The targeted users are in all countries of the EU with a particular emphasis in Germany.
Service/ system concept
The proposed service will close gaps currently existing within two end-to-end processes within the forestry domain. Both processes suffer from a lack of availability and insufficient accuracy of position determination as well as a lack of up-to-date geospatial reference data. This currently still prevents the users from establishing tree registers with the required accuracy of better than 1 m to allow for fast response in case of wind throws as well defining the site topography for timber harvest in difficult terrain such as pre-Alpine areas.
During the harvest high ground pressures may be caused by the harvesters and forwarders, leading to solid and consequent impact by structural changes in topsoil, such as coarse and fine pore destruction. Accordingly, the impact of driving in certain forest areas depends on the season and weather. It therefore requires technical equipment which allows for precise positioning and navigation in the forest to execute work in the most efficient manner with minimal damage to the environment. So the planning of the cutting would benefit from the knowledge of the soil condition not only locally, but for the entire forest enterprise. In difficult terrain, for example pre-Alpine areas, not all harvest technology can be used effectively. Information about the terrain facilitates the planning of the cutting.
Easy access of the user to the service at comparable low price as well as a sufficient availability of accuracy in both the EO as well as the GNSS domain are perceived as the critical success factors towards implementing a sustainable service.
Space Added Value
The Service targets at a market that currently suffers from a lack of recent geoinformation and precise navigation technology – the forestry domain.
We propose an integrated solution combining assisted/augmented GNSS and Satellite Communication further combined with Earth Observation (EO) and/or aerial data. The Service provides GNSS corrections in order to improve availability, accuracy and integrity of the position determination for users in remote and constrained environments. The EO data complements the service in order to provide the required reference; statically in form of elevation maps as well as dynamically in terms of near real time data of characteristics of the ground, the forest and the environment.
The key technologies to be provided are assisted GNSS and SatCom as well as EO and/or aerial imaginary. The assisted GNSS will be based on locally computed corrections.
The following tasks of the feasibility study have been completed:
- the definition of the use cases and the user requirements analysis,
- the state-of-the-art technology survey and the gap analysis,
- the system concept and architecture definition for the intended services and technology,
- the proof-of-concept for precise GNSS-based positioning and navigation in the forest and for the usage of satellite imagery for the determination of tree height and other characteristics,
- the market analysis and commercial viability for the proposed services
- the verification and validation of the proposed systems and services with regard to the user requirements and use cases,
- recommendations and the roadmap for further developments.
The following significant achievements have been made:
- the cost structure in forestry has been investigated to understand the commercial benefit and cost/benefit ratio of advanced technologies and services in forestry,
- several advanced methods for the analysis of satellite-based images to identify landmarks, features and characteristics in the forest have been developed and assessed,
- the GNSS signal characteristics and the conditions for receiving signals in the forest under various conditions have been analysed and investigated,
- methods for improving the accuracy of position determination from the received GNSS signals in the forest have been developed, simulated and assessed.
The study work was completed and finished in December 2015.