Dr. David Kulhavy, Laurence C. Walker professor of forest entomology within Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, was one of a select group of forestry professionals from across the nation chosen to present at the first Forest Innovation Reviews Forum sponsored by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
Kulhavy’s presentation focused on the myriad ways in which geospatial technologies, and more specifically unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones, are contributing to the field of natural resources conservation and education.
Kulhavy said this technology allows users to complete projects, such as the creation of an orthophoto map, in a matter of hours — a task that traditionally took days to finish.
Students within SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture have access to this technology and, with guidance from Kulhavy and other professors, they engage in novel investigation and research. Examples of past student projects include determining the accuracy of drones in tree height measurement, monitoring forest health and quantifying land use change.
“This is what is really neat in terms of teaching the concepts of research and service — you have your automatic project right there,” Kulhavy said. “That’s what we do — we put the drones in the student’s hands.”
The selection process for this forum was a multistage procedure that included interviews, as well as the development of multiple proposals and video presentations. The 2019 forum, hosted by the University of Georgia, was created as a way to share well-formed ideas about forests, forest management, forest products and forest-rich communities through short, powerful talks. Kulhavy’s full presentation is available at youtube.com/watch?v=T8Z79AgluNE.