Mapping Toolbox - Timber Cruise Calculators and Field Data Collection
This page provides free tools for conducting forest inventories
or collecting other field data.
Gathering forest inventory data is an essential part of forestry
GIS. Foresters learn cruising methods in college, but the principles
are fairly easy to grasp if you are a landowner wanting to understand
the process or do your own inventory (see
About Forestry for more).
National Cruise Program (NatCRS - US Forest
Service) is the definitive forest inventory program
used on all the US National Forests. It calculates timber
volumes for forest reconnaissance and timber sales using
sophisticated volume estimator functions. The program
offers approximately 190 reports including:
Data and Individual Tree Information
Level Volume Summaries
Reports by Population
Reports by Strata and Sale
for Sample Populations
Errors for Strata and Sale
Log Length (Export Grade) Reports
is somewhat complicated to learn (recommended only for
trained foresters familiar with technical forest measurement
terminology) and to use since it is still DOS-based.
The Forest Service does, however, provide
extensive documentation. The Pacific Northwest
Region 6 has additional
"user friendly" setup programs and instructions
that explain using NatCRS under Windows.
check out the
National Cruise Data Entry Program (NatCDE). It
provides field personnel with an easy method of collecting
cruise data with digital field recorders. The original
DOS-based software runs on dedicated handheld recorders,
but a new Pocket PC FSCruiser program is now
The beta version of FSCruiser is available here by ftp.
collected for NatCRS can also be used in the
Landscape Management Simulator, a 3D forest visualization
program for Windows available from Yale University and
University of Washington.
Hall's Wisconsin TIMBER
INVENTORY, GROWTH, AND ECONOMIC REVIEW (TIGER) is
a commercial timber cruise option that landowners in
Wisconsin might want to look into. Hall offers a classroom
introduction to the program and a lucid operation manual.
Field Data Collection
the advent of rugged field data recorders, tablet PCs
and PDA devices, foresters can collect digital
forest inventory data. With tree information recorded
in a digital format from the start, cruisers can simply
copy field data into the program that completes the
calculations. Office time, transcription errors and
drudgery are significantly reduced.
a versatile ― though moderately expensive ―
approach, the HP1100 tablet PC with a Delorme Earthmate
GPS provide high resolution maps and data collection
in a full Windows XP operating environment. The tablet
here is in a rugged field case, and the Earthmate GPS
is attached to a camera monopod with rubber bands. The
monopod is usually placed in a vest back pocket to elevate
the GPS receiver over the cruiser's head for best reception
(or you can attach the Bluetooth GPS to your hat).
data for Kruzer or other inventory programs can
be collected with a PDA. The setup shown above includes
a Pocket PC PDA in a rugged "Otterbox", which
allows GPS and power connections by cable through a
port in the case. Click the image above for details.
the low cost of some PDAs (like the Palm units below),
it is also feasible to simply use them "as is"
or inside a Ziplock® bag to keep water out. The other
extreme is to use a specialized field recorder like
an Allegro® CX.
are a few applications for collecting field data.
for Pilot-DB (Palm PDAs)
terms of inexpensive equipment, PalmOne®
devices (like the Zire 21, available for less than $100) are very
cost effective field data collectors for simple flat-file programs
like Kruzer2003. Pilot-DB
for Palm is a freeware database application that can handle
the task with ease. To make creation of Pilot-DB database forms
simple, a complementary program called DB
Editor (also free) can be downloaded for use on your desktop
Windows PC. In DB Editor, you can set up the order of data fields
and make drop-down pick lists for quicker data entry in the field.
If you'd like to try the procedure,
you can download a
small 1 KB Kruzer template file which can be run either on
a Palm PDA with Pilot-DB
or on your desktop with DB
Editor. Palm screen shots would look like these:
Zire 21 ― said to run for 10+ hours on a battery
charge. Data fields can be set up as integer, string,
Boolean, notes, date and other options. The resulting
records can be exported to Excel with DB Editor for
use in Kruzer 2003.
lists for Pilot-DB can be set up easily with DB Editor
on your desktop PC. The duplicate icon (circled in red)
also speeds data entry for identical trees by copying
all fields to a new record.
This image shows the
relative size of a Palm Tungsten E screen compared to
the Zire model above. The 320x320 Tungsten display has
four times the area of a Zire 21 or 31. The base Tungsten
E is about twice the price of a Zire 21, but its touch
screen's bigger text and icons would be easier to hit.
The Tungsten's color screen also has a backlight, improving
visibility in low light.
Editor, the data fields can be changed as needed. You might,
for instance, want to add a Waypoint Field to record corresponding
waypoints set on a separate GPS receiver. Lat/lon data could then
be joined with the tree tally. The species list could be adjusted
to delete types or add trees common on the forest tract to be
examined. You'll also need DB Editor to convert your Palm data
to Excel files for use in Kruzer2003 volume calculations.
Another Palm database program specifically
for natural resources is CyberTracker.
It includes Lat/Lon coordinate recording for GPS-enabled devices.
See the CyberTracker instruction manual for steps to set up a
for XS Forms (Pocket PC PDAs)
to collect data on a Pocket PC device rather than a Palm? Then
check out XS Forms and the companion XS Designer.
The two freeware programs from
GrandaSoft operate much the same as the Pilot-DB/DB Editor
programs described above. The XS Designer program for the PC has
an attractive graphical interface, making layout of data forms
like to try PocketKruzer
and XS Forms on your Pocket PC PDA, download them here.
After entering records, use the XS Forms Export Wizard to save
the data as a CSV text file. Then in Excel, copy and paste the
relevant fields into Kruzer 2003 to complete the inventory calculations.
use XS Designer and XS Forms to collect any type of data. XS Forms
can also query data and incorporate a barcode scanner. The programs
are free to download at GrandaSoft.
Tally Meter & FScruiser
US Forest Service offers a free Windows CE/Pocket PC tally program
Tally Meter ― that can be set up to collect data
for Kruzer2003 (above). Kruzer's design is especially well adapted
to digital field data collection, allowing direct copy/paste from
the FS Tally Meter output into Kruzer.
If you'd like to experiment with the FS Tally Meter and Kruzer2003
on your desktop PC, instructions
and a Tally Meter template for Kruzer are available here.
Tally Meter comes in both PC and WinCE/PPC versions,
available for download from the Forest
Service, so you can design cruise templates on your desktop
before going to the field. FS Tally Meter is a handy data collection
program whether you are counting trees or anything else. Just
design a table for your purpose.
USFS Timber Cruising site features timber
volume formulas that can be applied to data collected by FS
Tally Meter to compute tree volumes in many formats. (See Appendix
3 of the Tally
Meter User Guide for instructions.)
Forest Service has also released its first production version
of FScruiser, a sophisticated forest inventory data collection
program for handheld computers.
supports the cruise methods outlined in the
Timber Cruising Handbook (FSH 2409.12), including fixed plot,
point sampling, point count/measure tree, sample tree, and (soon
to be available) 3P.
allows complete customization including which data entry fields
are visible and their display order, drop-down list contents (species
codes for example), data validation ranges, etc. Customizations
can be saved and distributed as cruise "setup" files.
the application, instructions and examples from the US Forest
CyberTracker freeware creates data entry templates and
screen sequences to run on Windows Mobile PocketPC or PalmOS handheld
computers. The program is optimized for collecting GPS coordinates
simultaneously with other field data if you have a connected GPS
receiver. CyberTracker's award-winning design allows displaying
icons, text or both, making data collection faster and intuitive
even for non-technically oriented users.
addition to the design module, the desktop PC version of the program
includes data query tools and the ability to map data points over
georeferenced images or shapefiles. It can also export data in
many common formats including:
(ideal for use with Kruzer for forest
ESRI Shape File
Comma Separated Values
Web page (HTML)
eXtended Markup Language (XML)
Map as an unreferenced BMP, JPEG or WMF image.
CyberTracker download (about 10 MB) includes simple and
helpful documentation to get you started.
to ForestPal Mapping Toolbox