IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Earth

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John Harvey
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IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Earth

Post by John Harvey » Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:35 am

I use Google Earth a lot to find forests with interesting trees and to pre map my forages and identify potential hazards before I enter an unknown forest. One thing I look for is "lumpy" forest as I call them and dark green colors. Forest with voluptuous, cloud like tree tops and dark green foliage seem to have the older, taller, and larger trees. I've attached different photos of various old growth to demonstrate my theories. Notice in the image below of Rickets Glen how the OG areas have these characteristics and the second growth areas do not.
Rickets Glen
Rickets Glen
Below is an up close image of Saddlers Woods old growth. A small 5 acre patch. Even here you can see color difference and the rugged, lumpy canopy and occasional empty spot give away its contents.
Saddlers Woods
Saddlers Woods
Here is Children's Forest in Humboldt Redwoods SP in California. You can clearly see the patterns here. It is so much more pronounced in older forests (esp the 1000+ year old)
Children's Forest
Children's Forest
Below is Bear Swamp in southern New Jersey. Here again it is even more apparent where some trees are possibly in the 700 year range. The area of old growth here stops abruptly.
Bear S
Bear S
Here is one more of Jed Smith in northern California. You can even see small remnant old growth forest to the south and east here.
Jed Smith
Jed Smith
There are obviously differences from forest to forest based on tree type and age but the pattern is clear. Any thoughts?
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

East Coast and West Coast Big Tree Hunter

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox

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treesrock
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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by treesrock » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:40 am

Love this, thanks for posting!

Joe

Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by Joe » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:46 am

JohnnyDJersey wrote: There are obviously differences from forest to forest based on tree type and age but the pattern is clear. Any thoughts?
Forestry students have to take a course- photogrammetry- which is all about getting as much info about forests from photos- it's a well developed science.

The state of Mass. GIS agency does its own flights every several years and the images are digitally processed to remove distortions due to elevation- so that you can measure distances fairly accurately on the photos, which you can't do with "normal" photography. The quality of these photos is much better than what you'll usually find on Google Earth. I presume some other states also offer their own aerial photos.

Though the digitally corrected photos (orthophotos) have their advantages, I prefer aerial photography with stereo overlap. Though distances will be distorted, you get a much better sense of the lay of the land and a better sense of the size of the trees.

I know that Lidar is the latest thing in aerial photography but I haven't studied that method- a number of discussions on that subject can be found in this BBS.
Joe

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AndrewJoslin
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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by AndrewJoslin » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:16 pm

I've been doing the same thing in New England and more so in Massachusetts. It is tricky, but at the least I can find the tallest trees for any given locale I'm looking at. Reliably. I've consistently located (ground truthed) the tallest white pine for any area I'm looking at with satellite photos. It's all relative of course, I can find the best white pines for a given spot but they may not be superlative trees compared to the very best pines in New England for example. It really helps to look at topography too in judging sites, the biggest ones always seem to be in topographic sweet spots, what the NTS call "super sites" for growing optimally tall trees per species.
-AJ

Andrew Joslin
Jamaica Plain, MA

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DougBidlack
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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by DougBidlack » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:28 am

John,

like Andrew I've been doing this for a few years and I'm guessing that most NTS that measure trees on a fairly regular basis do something similar. I also tend to use the term 'lumpy' to describe the better sites. However, even forests that are not old growth can take on this 'lumpy' characteristic. Rich soils, decent climate and fast growing trees are all that is required to reach this 'lumpy' state in 100 years or less. Second growth sites may look uneven aged just from differential growth rates of the different tree species present at the site.

Doug

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Don
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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by Don » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:30 pm

My initial exposure to New England was as a grad student at UMASS. Coming from several years as a forest technician in deep dark SE Kentucky, I had decided it was time to upgrade my resume, and with a push from the USFS, I obtained a Research Assistant position in their Forestry Department.
This is how the above background relates to this thread...for my thesis, I chose to use satellite imagery to identify spectral and spatial signatures of old-growth forests in NW Massachusetts. John and Doug's use of the words "rugged" and "lumpy" brought back memories from that time. I also noticed patterns, although it was a little more difficult in the early 1980's, having to rely on Landsat 30m and SPOT 10m imagery. Augmenting the spatial resolution with digital orthophoto quarter quads, I was able to more clearly discern what I labeled as "rugosity" (condition of being rugose, or in the 'vernacular', lumpy, rugged). I also recall sensing that north aspected coves tended to have higher correlation with old-growth.
Needing to 'ground truth' these sites, it was with the help of this fella that was getting known as a guru of dbh's, that I met Bob Leverett and spent a fair amount of wood's time getting to know the tree's, the country, and Bob...I still revere those times and associations.
Were I back there now, I'd be thinking of combining Landsat, SPOT, LiDar, DOQQs and running their coregistration of them through Structure for Motion...then racing off into the woods.
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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dbhguru
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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by dbhguru » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:28 pm

Hi Folks

What Don does not mention is that in those days while he was formulating hypotheses with reckless abandon, he needed to keep up his strength. So, he and I entered into a pact to consume sherbet from Friendly's, a local chain specializing in ice cream. We felt it our solemn duty to support Friendly's as a local business. Tropic Passion, Watermelon, and Peach Melba were our favorites. But after getting his masters, Don left the area, and put the full burden of maintaing our collective sherbet quota on me. It was soon after that that I acquired the name Burl Belly Bob. I've never fully forgiven Don for saddling me with such a caloric responsibility. But I took it seriously, and it eventually prompted our good buddy Will Blozan to remark that if I didn't quit shoveling the sherbet, stuff was going to begin orbiting around me. It has taken me a long time to shed those lbs.

Ah, but those were the days! Tree discoveries came from both expected and unexpected places. Well, we've come along way since then, but the discoveries keep coming. I'm still amazed at what is coming out of Ohio.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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John Harvey
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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by John Harvey » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:08 am

Bob,
You had to mention watermelon sherbet, my favorite. Especially from Friendly's, which is conveniently located next to my job. Anyhow, thank you everyone for your personal accounts and input.
I'm glad our forefathers didn't have this kind of technology, we would probably have even less old forest today. Somewhere in California there is an old growth forest I was reading about where the surveyors made a miscalculation and skipped over a valley by mistake. The result is a beautiful redwoods forest that would have been cut and forgotten.
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

East Coast and West Coast Big Tree Hunter

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox

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dbhguru
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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by dbhguru » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:55 am

John,

Over the years, we've come across a number of accounts where a parcel of forest survived by accident.

Yeah, watermelon sherbet rules. For some reason, lack of sales I guess, Friendly's quit making tropic Passion and Peach Melba. My taste buds are the poorer for it.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

Climbatree813
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Re: IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Ea

Post by Climbatree813 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:25 am

Some of the most beautiful pine forest in Minnesota is due to a similar mistake. Ancient forests spared because somebody made a mis-measurement.

http://www.wildlifeviewingareas.com/wv- ... ParkID=542

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