By Stratos Stylianidis
GeoImaging Ltd., Cyprus
FORSAT is a research project co-funded by the national funding authorities of the participating countries under EUROSTARS and the European Commission, for the period 2012-2014. The project kick-off meeting was held on Nov. 29, 2012 in Nicosia, Cyprus. During the meeting, the consortium figured out the initial project plan.
The aim of FORSTAT, which stands for ”A satellite image processing platform for high resolution forest assessment,” is to raise the current technological capacity of aerial imagery combined with airborne laser scanning for forest cover mapping applications to a stand-alone, satellite-based monitoring capacity.
Specifically, the project aspires to transfer the existing precise processing capabilities of airborne techniques to Very High Resolution (VHR) optical, stereographic satellite data, thereby providing a single source forest information solution.
The envisaged FORSAT platform will enable high-resolution thematic mapping of forest areas along with canopy height detection, which will in turn allow for the derivation of forest volume. Based on historical data, the system will allow automatic change detection of forest/non-forest areas along with change in forest volume. The FORSAT functionalities, accuracy, capacities and applicability to specified market segments will be tested, improved and benchmarked against existing relevant platforms.
Project leaders aim to test the capacity and benefits of FORSAT with European users in Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey by executing six application case studies. This is designed to generate the necessary facts and needed trust of other public bodies and private organizations to use VHR satellite data for many forest information needs, which do not require centimeter accuracy.
Finally, the project shall develop the marketing strategies and business agreements among the partners (and future service providers) for the sale of the FORSAT platform and the accompanying services.
In summary, the specific objectives of the proposed project FORSAT are to:
1. Develop and validate a VHR satellite imagery-based processing suite and dedicated application solutions products (FORSAT 3D software suite and FORSAT 3D Forest Geo-Products)
2. Test user-required applications with viability for future operation and prospect for wider service uptake to the European market
3. Set the business framework and promote the developed capacity to provide VHR satellite-based forest assessment solutions.
The results of FORSAT will provide single source, flexible forest information solutions with a competitive price/quality ratio, allowing for new market entry in the forest sector. The project is conceived as a fully user-driven project and the consortium setup ensures know-how transfer between the European Earth Observation (EO) software development and service application industry.
Stratos Stylianidis is the FORSAT project coordinator via GeoImaging Ltd. He received his diploma in Surveying Engineering (1996) from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and his Ph.D. from the same university (2001) in the area of Photogrammetry and GIS.