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BC invests $300K in virtual forestry management tool and testing facility


June 18, 2020
By P&PC Staff

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The TimberOps platform by LlamaZOO. Photo: UBC

An immersive visual analytics platform for forest operations and land management has received a $300,000 grant from the province of British Columbia for development and commercialization.

The TimberOps platform was created by the Victoria-based LlamaZOO, a software-as-a-service provider that helps companies visualize their data in 3D, in partnership with UBC Faculty of Forestry and FPInnovations.

The funding, granted by Innovate BC’s Ignite program, will advance the technical research and development of TimberOps and be used to create the UBC Forest Engagement Initiative, a virtual reality– and augmented reality–enabled facility that uses TimberOps to demonstrate landscape-level forest resources management.

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“Managing resources on large forestry lands is a complex task that has historically been a slow, expensive process involving extensive back-and-forth travel to remote locations and in-office designing,” says Charles Lavigne, CEO and co-founder, LlamaZOO Interactive, in a statement.

“TimberOps solves these significant resource challenges. We’re excited to bring this technology to students and future generations of forestry operators.”

The new VR/AR facility

The UBC Forest Engagement Initiative facility will serve as a training, test and demonstration site of TimberOps for UBC forestry students and industry stakeholders led by Dr. Dominik Roeser, associate professor forest and wildfire operations at UBC.

It will also be an industry pathway to demonstrate the technology and digital innovation to pilot patrons of TimberOps.

Work done at the facility will foster data and evidence-based conversations for all stakeholders of the forest industry, including forestry-driven companies, government, Indigenous and local communities, and forestry science research and education institutions.

“Working and teaching in virtual reality has the potential to revolutionize the way we work in forestry in the future. The Ignite grant could not have come at a better time as we are forced to move teaching from the field into an online environment due to COVID-19,” says Roeser.

How TimberOps works

TimberOps integrates various forestry and land resources data on a large digital landscape, with intuitive analytical tools for collaborative, data-driven decision making and business intelligence.

Designed to facilitate cutblock planning, road surveying and other forestry operations, TimberOps aims to reduce the cost of forestry planning and resource management.

By integrating all available data on a high-fidelity, three-dimensional digital landscape, TimberOps can help reduce field planning trips and travel costs, meet multi-objective land management goals and facilitate community consultations with intuitive topographic visualizations and remote connectivity.