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Urban Forestry

Multispectral imaging cameras on an aircraft provides a critical assessment tool to quantify and monitor the benefits of urban forests.


While drones are suitable for aerial imaging of small areas, full-sized aircraft is more capable of surveying large areas in a short amount of time.

Viewing the health of an urban forest from the ground can be a challenging task in large geographical areas.


Early signs of plant stress are often found at the top of the canopy and are not always visible from the ground.

An aerial perspective overcomes this problem, providing an early warning system for detecting plant stress.  


Aerial MSI data also provides a permanent digital record on the state of the health, extent and structure of an urban forest.  


Aerial MSI can be used to accurately determine vegetation type, location, structure, and canopy cover.


Dead and dying vegetation stand out in enhanced, high resolution image maps, highlighting planting potential and vegetation conversion opportunities.

Aerial MSI is effective for measuring and monitoring vegetative dynamics using spectral indices such as NDVI and NGVe. 


The index is derived from the mathematical calculation of spectral bands that are diagnostic of vegetation photosynthesix capacity, biomass, productivity, and canopy fragmentation.  

North American vegetation is typically highly reflective in the non-visible, near-infrared compared to the visible light reflectance.

NGVe diagram.jpg

  Changes in plant reflectance can provide an early warning system of stressed trees, prompting field teams to investigate before a small problem becomes widespread. 

On March 30, 2020, FireWatch contracted with Tree San Diego to help expand and further develop regional urban forests through their Cal Fire funded project; Branch Out San Diego.


FireWatch has been supporting Tree San Diego by providing the following components:


Aerial imagery that will determine the canopy cover and planting potential in select planting locations, and


Urban forestry health and change-detection data for annual comparative analysis of planting regions.


The FireWatch team is confident that Tree San Diego will succeed with its proactive approach to urban forestry expansion and canopy enhancement in and around San Diego communities.

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