Sallow Wattle Update

New 3D vision technique to revolutionise conservation efforts

PV Press Release Tuesday 21 March, 2017

If you think 3D vision glasses used for gaming are purely for entertainment, think again. A Parks Victoria science team is successfully using this technology for the first time to “fight the enemy” and identify a highly invasive weed, Sallow Wattle in the Grampians National Park.

The breakthrough technique has the potential to revolutionise the way weeds are identified and managed across Victoria, including areas previously difficult to access with mountainous terrain.

Steve Shelley, the Parks Victoria Information Management Officer, who has developed the use of this technology said, “The possibilities are endless. And how lucky am I to have this as part of my job? I enjoy using gaming technology at home for fun and then at work too.”

Parks Victoria Project Manager, Mike Stevens said, “You have to get sophisticated about knowing your enemy – in this case, weeds.”

“Dealing with large scale weed issues is like dealing with a big piece of string and you don’t know how long it is before monitoring begins.”

Other key points:

  • Mapping the extent and density of Sallow Wattle in the northern Grampians region using gaming technology (3D stereoscopic imagery).
  • Uses an ArcGIS plug-in called PurVIEW that utilises gaming technology (Nvidia 3D Vision glasses and infrared emitter) to present our park landscape in 3D from overlaying aerial photographs. Viewing in 3D helps to discriminate flora species by their height as well as their shape, texture and colour.

Innovative solution to a major problem facing our park managers.

  • Sallow Wattle is a highly invasive weed in the Grampians National Park. It has become a particular problem after fires in 1999 and 2014 released the Sallow Wattle seeds. Although native to Australia, it is not native to the Grampians and has spread so that other native plants are disadvantaged as it forms a solid wall that prevents many species from growing underneath.
  • In the Grampians, Parks Victoria is dealing with 30, 000 hectares and this poses a huge challenge for mapping weeds given the mountainous terrain.
  • Past surveying methods have included on-ground surveys which are time consuming, labour intensive and not always safe given the terrain.
  • The 3D vision glasses and infrared emitter allows the team to identify plants by colour, height, texture and infrared reflectivity.
  • Sallow Wattle is easy to identify using this method as it is a “middle-story” shrub and can easily be separated from tall eucalypts and low shrubs.
  • Weeds pose issues for biodiversity, and could significantly harm this important landscape and habitat that is also a major attraction for local, national and international visitors/tourists.
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