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Report, 2003

Computer visualization of forest development scenarios in Backsjon estate : an evaluation of the Visual Nature Studio 2 software

Manderola Matxain, Iker


Concern about environmental problems has grown rapidly over the last decades and related to that emergent interest a lot of research has been done and regulations applied. Today public scrutiny is more intense and participation in decision-making has increased especially in forested environments. This situation requires good and easily understandable information, but usually there is not enough communication between authorities, managers and the general public. Those three components have to interchange information about the landscape development and its natural resources in order to maintain or improve environmental conditions. Therefore there is a need for newer techniques of exposing and explaining the future consequences of different management decision alternatives as well as showing forecasts according to different scenarios. It is well established that graphics, specifically data visualizations, are usually the simplest and most powerful way for communicating results (Tukey, 1977; Tufte 1983). This concept has been expanded to include the use of visualizations for representing natural landscapes. Until recently, forest visualization efforts have focused mainly upon illustrating static concepts or the possible outcomes of management actions (Bishop and Karadaglis, 1997; McCaughey, 1997; Buckley, 1998). The development of computer and visualization technologies is making more popular the use of computer visualization as a delivery tool for the results of environmental change studies and management plans, especially concerning forested environments (Tang and Bishop, 2002). Furthermore, there are large needs for visualization in illustrating scenarios and forecast of forest growth, with different management alternatives, and give an idea about the consequences of sylvicultural actions (i.e. cuttings, thinnings, etc.). When delivering spatial and environmental information to a non-scientific audience, or even to managers, it is important to put it in a convincing way, in order that the more important data and their meaning are quickly understood. Particularly when referred to the presentation of spatial data concerning to management or land use change, realism provides the great advantage of familiarity to aid interpretation (Bishop, 1994). Owing to this, the visualization is a powerful tool for communicating with the public on participatory processes. In this context, most commercial 3D visualization software packages have so far not been able to satisfy the forestry related needs. Since currently, these software packages have limitations, mainly because most packages have been aimed at Virtual Reality (VR) capability. Those problems are related to the circumstance that in VR applications, the computer tries to handle each tree as an object in the RAM memory, runn ing into memory problems quickly, and also less developed integration with georeferenced GIS datasets, etc. For the basic forestry need, Virtual Reality capability is however not necessary and the rendering of an image taken from one view point might be sufficient. As an example of photorealistic visualization software, the new Visual Nature Studio 2 promises to be useful in different scales, with other interesting characteristics like vector guided rendering, etc.


forest management; forecasting; imagery; decision support; computer software

Published in

Arbetsrapport / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för skoglig resurshushållning
Publisher: Institutionen för skoglig resurshushållning, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Soil Science

Permanent link to this page (URI)