Canopy cover benchmarking and change measurement is critical to urban greening strategy, planning, execution and verification. Previously, cost and effort has meant the intervals for assessment have often been 5 years or more with data based heavily reliant on sampling or averaging techniques, largely limiting the work to an historic point-in-time % measurement. Using fine-scale (0.5m resolution) satellite imagery, taken at a specified time intervals and interpreted with AI (artificial intelligence – a trained, convolutional neutral network) to identify trees from visual and NIR spectral data, year on year data was analysed. In a surprising result, individual removed and hazard (dead) trees, tree growth and pruning/decline were clearly visualized. Information was then compared to climatic data (abiotic) and human effort/pest/disease (biotic). Integrating with a display interface (ArcGIS), canopy cover could be determined dynamically, measuring and segregating the % canopy cover based on and any viewable, subset area. By overlaying the data on cadastre, clear accountability could be allocated to by property ownership (e.g. private and LGA).
This approach provides a powerful management tool with hard, timely, visualised data and clear stakeholder accountability. It changes the urban greening strategy conversation from having a “tree planting” bias (because this has been the simplest measurable) to strategies encompassing a holistic view (including water, nutrients and retention) which, for the first time, can be measured, demonstrated and verified.
Simon Strauss, B App Sc (with distinction), attended his first international Clean Air conference at Melbourne University as a student in the 1970’s. After working in the UK and Europe in the 80’s, Simon returned to Australia and was privileged to present a number of environmental awards for CASANZ whilst consulting on waste-water management using electronic nose technology. Joining Linfox in the 2000’s as Vice President – Strategy, Simon helped pioneer the successful CO2-e reduction, “Green Fox”, program as Business Unit Convener, ultimately resulting in a halving of Linfox’s /km carbon footprint and presenting at Sustainability conferences in Melbourne and Sydney during this period. In the 2010’s, Simon consulted to Glencore mines in Australia and Africa on subjects such as waste management and SO2 emission monitoring and control. After joining ATS and attending the 2019 Arboriculture Australia Alice Springs and Treenet conferences, Simon’s vision for a new business – Active Green Services – along with pioneering innovations in drone-based inspections, satellite & AI applications and Tier 1 software solutions approach to arboriculture challenges lead to the establishment and launch of that new business at Treenet 2020. Simon brings a working lifetime of environmental experiences providing quality, strategic oversight and business acumen to help ensure Active Green clients achieve optimal outcomes.