Surveying land can be done on foot or by drone or airplane, but any time land is covered in thick vegetation, it’s difficult to get an accurate measurement. You might need to measure the vegetation itself. Often, however, the survey needs to measure the land and terrain underneath that vegetation. For example, digital terrain models are also known as bare-earth models, so it’s important to separate the vegetation from the terrain itself. Topographic maps and digital surface models may include the vegetation, which helps developers, engineers and builders determine where obstructions and other land features are located.
Here are the challenges of surveying and vegetation in Texas, and how professionals get around these issues.
Terrain surveying with thick vegetation
Vegetation and other natural features can make surveying very difficult. For example, traditional surveying equipment may not be able to get around woods, large trees, streams and steep hills. This makes it hard to travel the land and get accurate measurements, particularly if it’s an undeveloped area with thick vegetation.
One of the ways surveyors get around these problems is to use LiDAR technology, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging. The technology uses lasers to penetrate through the vegetation, like trees and ground cover, and record the measurements. It’s highly accurate and can be powered by airplane or by drone, so surveyors won’t have to scour the area on foot. This also has the benefit of being much faster than traditional surveying methods.
Surveying the vegetation itself
Sometimes you need a survey of the vegetation itself. Some aerial methods like LiDAR can be used to reflect how much vegetation there actually is, whether they measure the distance from the treetops to the aerial device or use another method.
There is an entire subset of surveying dedicated to mapping vegetation. This typically relies on roughly drawn boundaries rather than exact measurements. It’s used for those in earth sciences, like environmentalists, botanists and professionals in other disciplines where measuring plant habitats is key. The survey can describe areas with and without vegetation, or describe the species, density and location of the vegetation. This can be used to map how plants grow, look for environmental changes after major natural disasters or man-made development and find sensitive ecological areas.
Generally, vegetation surveys can be done in the air or on foot. For example, the surveyor might need to measure the vegetation height and compare it to a terrain map or grid. This allows the surveyor to come back later and monitor how the vegetation has spread or declined over that period of time.
Ultimately, every piece of land will present its own surveying challenges, but surveyors have found ways to get around even the toughest vegetation in Texas. The way your survey is conducted will depend on what kind of vegetation your parcel features, as well as what kind of data you’re hoping to get.
If you’re in need of land and vegetation surveys, D.G. Smyth & Co., Inc. can help. Call us today to get started.