Featured Projects

Washington State Parcel Database
Luke Rogers

Digital parcel data stored in a geographic information system has become a critical source of information for resource land managers, community development, infrastructure maintenance, homeland security and business development. Washington State leaders, managers, researchers and business continually use GIS parcel data for decision making, science and resource management.

UW RSGAL Geospatial Canopy Cover Assessment Workshop
Dr. L. Monika Moskal

Remote sensing technologies can provide a means to explore a variety of continuous environmental variables over large areas.  Remote assessments are reasonably simple and can be conducted quickly, inexpensively, and without access or disturbance issues encountered in ground-based data collections.  These assessments provide a means to measure and monitor complex urban environments, and their dynamic ecologies. 

For instance, canopy cover surveys and forest pattern metrics are useful to help a city quantify current tree cover status (Hunsinger & Moskal, 2005), determine the locations and drivers of canopy loss or gain (Turner & Gardner 1991), and monitor these trends in over time (Moskal et al. 2004).  These data can then be used to establish tree protection requirements for new developments, assist with urban forest health management, and determine target areas for planting projects.  Remote sensing techniques can be applied to the analysis of many other environmental and human dynamics within urban systems to aid in sustainable planning and management of these areas.

Traditional remote sensing techniques are not generally appropriate for assessing complex scenes like that of urban areas.  Though historically used for earth observation, the spatial resolution of Landsat imagery (30 meters) limits the ability to map small features found within urban areas.  In such cases, aerial imagery is generally preferred. 

A relatively new method, object-based image analysis (GOBIA), sometimes referred to as feature extraction or object-based remote sensing, allows for use of additional variables such as texture, shape, and context to segment and classify image features (Hay & Castila 2008).  This can both improve accuracy results and allow us to map very small urban features, such as mature individual trees or small clusters of shrubs (Moskal et al. 2011). 

ECOSEL- a Forest Ecosystem Services Marketing Tool
Dr. Sandor Toth

ECOSEL is an analytical modeling tool that aids forest landowners and managers in selling ecosystem services from their working forestland. ECOSEL optimally allocates management actions to forest stands in order to produce various bundles of timber and non-timber benefits. The tradeoffs and opportunity costs of providing an efficient range of bundles are identified and linked to spatially explicit management plans. The basic idea is that the harvesting activities can be reshuffled across the land-base and over time so that various amounts of mature forest habitat (green patches) could arise and evolve. Obviously, as more mature forest habitat is desired, more timber revenues must be forgone.

The profit maximizing alternative is represented by Point A accompanied by a map of the corresponding 3-period management plan that shows the harvesting activities that would need to take place in order to achieve this maximum profit. At the other end of the production frontier lies Alternative B leading to the greatest possible amount of mature forest habitat that can be achieved within the 60-year planning horizon (three 20-year long planning periods) used in this example. Several compromise alternatives exist between these two extremes, including Alternative C and E. The common feature of these alternatives is that they are efficient (Pareto-optimal) in a sense that no other alternatives exist that would lead to more profit or to more mature forest habitat without compromising the other service.