IDing The patterns and colors of Old Growth on Google Earth

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

Post by edfrank » Sat Aug 30, 2014 7:22 pm

The thing is, that while some of this is old school forestry knowledge in photo analysis, most of us to not want to goo back to school to get a degree in forestry just to pick out good tree locations on Google Earth photos. What we need are just the basic needs of identifying old growth on photos from secondary growth. I play with this as do many others in the group. If people have tips on how to do it, then I welcome their posts to the group. It need not be groundbreaking or new to science but practical tips on what to pick out are always welcome.

"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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

Post by sungirlblue » Sun Aug 31, 2014 7:08 pm

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone." ― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

i love this...i love the writings of hermann hesse, yet this i've not read 'til now. thank you ~
the trees, they dance. i love to watch ~

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

Post by addy » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:05 pm

Michael Knight touches on this subject in a report for a project in Corkscrew Swamp, Florida, he led: ... ._2014.pdf

As does Jordan Burns in a 2015 paper

The later paper describes a characteristic cobbled pattern evident in the deepest old growth pure cypress.

I've spent some time looking at hi res (2' or less) aerials of cypress swamps in Florida. As the Burns paper notes its easiest to distinguish the old growth swamp areas when they are at the edge or river or marsh/prairie areas and its more difficult when the old growth is in interior areas and contains a larger number of species.

Here is the horseshoe section of Corkscrew swamp in Florida, the center is wet prairie surrounded entirely by definite old growth, and the entire area shown is essentially undisturbed, that is to say the texture gradations are natural:
Southward down the horseshoe the swamp is secondary growth, you can see the border of the old growth area at the north of the aerial, not as distinct as you would think considering the logging method in this region was the forest leveling overhead skid & rail:
From here on down all the images are at 1:3000 scale but only if you click on them - the images on the BBS crawl were resized automatically.

Here is a detail of the natural old growth edges. The structures are the Audubon Sanctuary facilities:
Here is a detail of the Corkscrew old growth interior areas:
Here is a detail of the Corkscrew secondary growth:
A little ways southwest of Corkscrew is a large strand swamp called the Fakahatchee that was completely logged out for cypress. Here are two details of its interior. The first is an area almost completely secondary growth cypress, (and non-marketable cull trees if any) the second contains a large number of other hardwoods, dense shrubs and likely pines in the higher spots:
East of Orlando in the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area is an old growth floodplain swamp associated with the lower reaches of Jim Creek. Here's a detail of the swamp directly centered on the creek:
And at the outfall of Jim Creek:
Away from the channel the texture patterns are similar, although somewhat more varied:
A complete section of the swamp where it is surrounded on both sides by marsh gives a good range of texture variation:
All the Jim Creek aerials are entirely primary growth. This swamp appears to have been built out as a delta of sorts over the ages (extending over a mile) into the marshes. The teal is floodplain marsh and the brown is floodplain swamp, to the east is the St. john's River:
North of Jim Creek is another floodplain swamp, along Tosohatchee Creek, that has been logged, in part or entirely, by much less destructive cut and drag methods, and not very thoroughly either. It contains old growth sections throughout it in perplexing patterns. Here's a detail of its interior:
Elsewhere in the Tosohatchee Creek swamp its not clear from the aerial if there are large old growth sections. Its not clear since the cobbled texture isn't definitive and shows up in secondary growth areas. This spot may also represent a large area of non-marketable cull trees, which should have to most fantastic forms. At some point I will make it into this area and find out:
The Tosohatchee Creek swamp also appears to have been formed in part as a giant alluvial fan or delta:

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

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:50 pm

Addy- Really good stuff clearly shows the Old Growth. Can't wait to see your finds from those areas. Larry

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

Post by BeeEnvironment2020 » Fri Jan 01, 2021 6:41 pm

Hi John Harvey and everyone,
I was looking to see if other tree and forest lovers have been doing this, and now I know I'm not alone :roll:
I have noticed the lumpy characteristics typically found in old-growth. Does that mean that every lumpy forest i see is old-growth? No, but I have noticed that 75 percent of the time (for me at least), the forest section ends up being old-growth, or very old secondary growth (which usually have very impressive trees).
One thing to watch out for, however, is that on steep slopes, the "lumpy" trees can be misleading as the canopy would be like stair-steps, up and down, which would make it seem like old-growth (it could be old-growth, however, on very steep slopes that were inaccessible to loggers).
Anyhow, using this "lumpy" characteristic, I have found quite a few old-growth patches in public parks and preserves (such as a 10 acre section in the stateline woods preserve: out of Kennett, PA). In addition to this, I use, which allows anyone to view historic aerial photos that cover most of the U.S from the 1920s onward. Its a great resource to have to see if a forest had the old-growth "Lumpiness" a while back. (For Pennsylvania, use, as it has more photos from the 1930s of PA than the historical aerials link I put above.)
For instance, here is a photo of the Stateline Woods Preserve from the late 1930s:

Click on image to see its original size
As you can see above, the Northern Old-growth section has a "lumpy" canopy, and later aerial photos prove this (also, the northern section old-growth is located in a deep and steep stream valley strewn with very large boulders everywhere, which would make logging difficult). However, just south of the old-growth is a medium-aged secondary growth stand, as the canopy is not extremely varied, and you cant really make out much difference in canopy heights, unlike the old-growth.
Finally, in the very southern part of the forest (which I have yet to explore), there might be a small old-growth patch, as indicated by its lumpiness, though I will have to check that out.
I think it would be a very good idea if we could somehow develop a program or algorithm that could analyze the canopy, and suggest areas that may have a good chance of being old-growth. If it would work, it could help us identify many unknown groves that could be saved from logging!
Anyway, best of luck to everyone this 2021! :D

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

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:10 am

Bee Environment,
I've noticed similar patterns with clumpiness, but I haven't found 75 percent being OG or very old 2ndG. I live in the Southern Appalachians, so that may be the reason why. Steep slope forests often look like OG from satellite but often turn out to be mid aged 2ndG. I ran into that yesterday, when I expected very old 2ndG and it was considerably younger, with 3 OG trees in the mix. I don't know if I can attach a percentage of perceived OG with actual OG, but I would guess it's less than 25% in my area.

On flatter areas, i should be a more accurate way of finding OG.

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

Post by BeeEnvironment2020 » Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:39 pm

Hi Brian,
If I did not check this forum by mistake, I would not have caught your message. Somehow, the ENTS does not allow me to receive notifications or actually subscribe to discussions. Its pretty annoying!
Anyhow, Yes, maybe being in the southern Appalachian mountains may have something to do with it. Steep slopes can be misleading, but as im located in SE PA, steep slopes are not really common around here, and as a result, the "lumpy" patches generally tend to be more indicative of OG.
While this area has been heavily farmed for the past 300 years, some patches have been able to survive, mainly because land parcels for farming were small, and forested areas usually ended up in a far corner of a property or in small stream valleys, where there was really little need to clear more land than what was needed, because the soils are not that bad.

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

Post by RayA » Mon Jan 04, 2021 4:06 pm


One thing you may want to try, if you haven't already, is to check the settings in the "User Control Panel", which you can get to when you are logged on.. in the upper right corner, click the down-arrow next to your avatar and then "User Control Panel". There are settings for different kinds of notifications; maybe those aren't set the way you want them.

Another thing that's handy is to go to the "Quick links" menu at the upper left and choose "Active topics" there. That will show topics that have had recent posts. I typically just do that all the time. I leave that open in a browser tab all the time, and then just refresh the page to see if anything has been posted since I last checked.

One annoying thing I've found is that the "Active topics" page sometimes doesn't show all the recent activity; if you suspect that's happening, it can be corrected by using the "delete cookies" button at the bottom of the page and then going back to the Active topics link.

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

Post by BeeEnvironment2020 » Mon Jan 04, 2021 5:55 pm

Hi Ray,
Thanks for the help! It would now help me out quite a bit when I am trying to look for responses.
I checked my notifications in the user panel, and it seems like everything is set the way I like it to be for me to receive emails or digests. Anyhow, I think I should be better off now thanks to your tip about the active topics.
Thanks again!

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