Over the past 10 years, more than 2.5 million ha have been burned annually by wildfires. Fighting wildfires is complex and difficult, as is wildfire hazard mitigation, but both can be greatly improved with timely and accurate fuel attribute mapping data.
The forest sector is operationally using airborne laser scanning (ALS) and digital aerial photogrammetry (DAP) data to produce and update enhanced forest inventory (EFI) maps, but currently there are no software tools available to quickly and cost-effectively produce detailed vegetation fuel type maps or fuel attribute maps from these types of data. In particular, fire managers lack maps of surface fuel and understory forest structure.
Desired outcomes and considerations
Essential (mandatory) outcomes
- The solution must be able to allow users to produce maps quickly after data acquisition (no more than 4 weeks, including all steps of data processing, attribute modelling and map dataset output).
- The solution must be able to utilize existing data sources (airborne laser scanning LiDAR data, or digital aerial photogrammetry data or other data that can be acquired practicably for detailed vegetation fuel attribute mapping) to produce maps with a range of spatial resolutions (range between 1×1 m and 30×30 m pixels).
- The solution must be affordable to acquire and priced similarly to other geomatics software on the market.
- The solution should allow users to produce draft maps within a 48 hour timeframe (maximum) with a rapid option to produce preliminary maps within 1 to 2 hours (or as close to as possible)
- The solution should be able produce maps with a high resolution as close to 1 m as possible.
- The solution should be is easy to use for users with previous Geographic Information System (GIS) experience (e.g., no more than 4-5 days of training required)
- The solution should be able to run on readily available high performance computers (i.e., multiple cores (8+), high CPU clock speed, 64GB RAM minimum, solid state storage, and a powerful pro level graphics card).
Background and context
Wildfires are an integral part of many Canadian terrestrial ecosystems, such as boreal forests. Communities located in these ecosystems are at risk, and their wildfire risk is being magnified by climate change. Communities are or will soon be carefully assessing their wildfire hazard and risk and developing mitigation strategies.
Accurate mapping of vegetation structure and composition is essential for wildfire hazard assessment and mitigation planning, as well as for informing prevention and suppression. Communities will seek to supplement large-area, moderate spatial resolution (30 x 30 m) vegetation fuel type maps produced by provincial, territorial or federal government agencies with more detailed maps for their own local wildland-urban interface areas. The technologies for producing these detailed local area maps quickly and cost-effectively, however, are not entirely available yet.
The forest sector is operationally using airborne laser scanning (aka LiDAR) and digital aerial photogrammetry (DAP) data to produce and update enhanced forest inventory maps, but there are no software tools yet for quickly and cost-effectively producing detailed vegetation fuel type maps or fuel attribute maps from these types to data. In particular, fire managers lack maps of surface fuel and understory forest structure. The lack of these kinds of data make it very hard to predict fire behaviour in areas that have received vegetation management or other hazard reduction/FireSmart type treatments.
Depending on the situation, multiple resolutions are required:
- Within 500 m of the value at risk (e.g., building or structure): 1 m x 1 m resolution (no tool currently exists)
- Between 500 and 2000 m from the value at risk: 5 m x 5 m resolution (no tool currently exists)
- Beyond 2000 m from the value at risk: ~30 m resolution (provided by national products)
The resulting maps can be used for different purposes. For long-term planning, annual production of updated maps work well and maps do not have to be produced quickly. In some cases, especially in firefighting situations, maps can be required very quickly and ideally within a few hours.
The new technology would not only be in demand in Canada but worldwide.
For more information or propose a solution, please visit Government of Canada website.