Italy is using new remote sensing images from satellites to detect poplar plantations

ProPopulus Team

Although poplar cultivation is a strategic sector for the forest-wood supply chain in Italy and represents the most significant internal source for primary wood transformation, it occupies a very small portion of the national area (less than 1%) compared to that of forests.

As part of the support strategies for the supply of national raw material, Assopanelli Group has deemed it necessary to increase the knowledge base on the distribution of Italian poplar areas. The fact is that not just Italy, but the rest of Europe lacks this kind of information, since there is no updated data regardingarboriculture for wood in general and poplar trees especially.

To make up for this deficiency, Assopannelli with the support of FederlegnoArredo started collaborating with CREA (Research Council of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policies) and the University of Florence in 2017 in order to produce an inventory of poplar plantations, which, by high resolution aerial orthophotos have produced a first statistical estimate of the areas planted with poplar trees and the characteristics of these plantations (age classes, wood volumes, etc.).

This first inventory was presented in December 2018 with updated statistics on poplar surface distributions. At the beginning of 2019 the project continued with the help of the University of Florence, which used, for the first time, methodologies based on information from remote sensing (Copernicus).

The objective is to use the information derived from Sentinel-2 for the classification and mapping of poplar plantations, making use of the available information on a geographical scale to analyse the characteristics of the land cover and use of land resources. In this way, a system has been obtained for the annual monitoring of the invested areas that will offer numerous information sources, potentially useful for the forest and poplar sector, relating to the monitoring, mapping and large-scale inventorying of wood resources. The first test was run in June in the Ministry of Agriculture. The results of this project will be presented at the Assopannelli General Assembly to be held in Riva del Garda on November 14th, 2019.

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