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Spatial Technology Platform

Prof Ilaria Germishuizen

Prof Ilaria Germishuizen

Research Director

ICFR’s Spatial Technology platform maintains necessary skills, capabilities, expertise, and spatial data needed to support the forestry industry in research projects, initiatives and management activities that require the access, manipulation, and interpretation of spatially explicit datasets. Key objectives include sourcing, managing and development of relevant geospatial data sets on behalf and in support of the industry, research partners and ICFR whilst observing data confidentiality requirements; leading and supporting forest health monitoring initiatives; supporting monitoring and deployment strategies of biological control agents; biotic and abiotic risk modelling and impact studies particularly as impacted by climate change; ICFR national site classification development; management of spatial data associated with forest pest and pathogens and their biological control in partnership with the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme; supporting forestry companies and other organisations through ad hoc spatial data analyses.

The platform provides leading capacity in GIS and remote sensing-based research for the industry.  ICFR has developed valuable and trusted relationships with industry partners in this area and has become pivotal in collaborative projects requiring the sharing of sensitive company information. Key industry initiatives are the South African Sirex Control programme, the annual Leptocybe survey, and the FABI pest and disease database. The platform is strongly involved in research applying remote sensing to monitoring forest health. Extensive work has been done on baboon damage and the wattle rust, and a new project investigating the potential of using remote sensing technologies to monitor eco-physiological aspects of forest health such evapotranspiration rate monitoring is being initiated as a post graduate study with Nelson Mandela University. The platform works closely with FABI on several projects requiring geospatial analyses, mapping and georeferencing of insect pests, pathogens, and their biological control agents. Skills and expertise in spatial technologies are available to FSA members for company specific projects and recently, the ICFR has expanded its realm beyond forestry and, through a collaboration with Macadamias South Africa (SAMAC), where spatial technologies expertise has been applied to develop a site classification for macadamia orchards.

The spatial technologies platform also plays an important role in mentoring and capacity development through the supervision of post-graduate students working on a variety of research topics, from process-based productivity models to big data mining and remote sensing of forest health, through close collaborations with UKZN, Stellenbosch University, Nelson Mandela University and Pretoria University.

This platform is responsible for the management of the weather data on behalf of the forestry industry; through a collaboration with FABI and the Pretoria University master’s in information technology programme, this invaluable dataset of daily rainfall and temperature data from 1950 to current will soon be available to members via a web-based application.