Forest Metrix PRO is not a GIS, but it can be used with any GIS, like ArcGIS, Mobile Mapper, or QGIS. All of your data in FMPro is automatically georeferenced and can be exported in .csv, .xlsx, and .kml to the GIS of your choice. Forest Metrix PRO users also use a GPS app of their choice alongside FMPro in the field, like Gaia GPS, or most often Avenza Maps.
While ArcGIS has a stranglehold on government, institutions, and corporations, we believe QGIS is the best GIS solution for foresters, bar none. If offers every capability that you might need, but is better designed and more accessible to technology-phobic foresters and natural resource professionals. Added bonus: it’s free. This page offers a couple resources that make QGIS even easier.
THE CRASH COURSE
In order to save you time in learning a new piece of software, we debuted a workshop at the 2019 Society of American Foresters national convention in Louisville, Kentucky, called the Crash Course for Foresters. It was designed for foresters with zero GIS experience and an aversion to computers. It boils a typical forestry project workflow down into a series of steps that can be done on your own, simply by following the graphic-rich manual. It should take you an hour or two at most to follow the steps exactly and create a georeferenced PDF map that you can use in the field or publish. Run through the manual for a couple projects and you’ll be doing it in 15 minutes.
THE CRUISE GRID CREATOR
We wrote a plugin that allows you to very easily create a cruise grid of sample plots in QGIS. Click the Download icon below and save the file to your computer. Open QGIS, go to Plugins in the top menu bar, then Manage & Install Plugins. Locate Install from Zip in the column on the left, touch the 3-dot icon to the right of the Zip file field, and select the ForestMetrixTools folder from your computer. After installation, the plugin will appear in the top menu bar under Plugins.
To use the grid creator, you must first create your property or stand boundary shapefile. See the Crash Course above to learn how. It must be a single continuous polygon; if you are working with multiple stands, use a shapefile of the property or area boundary to create your grid.
- Open the Plugins menu, then Forest Metrix Tools -> Cruise Grid Creator.
- Your boundary shapefile may already be selected by default, or select that shapefile in the first field.
- Choose the grid azimuth orientation. By default, the grid will be created oriented north-south (0 degrees), but this can be changed to better align with the property boundary or topography.
- Indicate the distance between plots. The units will be consistent with what is used for your coordinate system. Meters is often the default system, but 20 meters is almost exactly one chain, so it’s pretty easy to think in terms of 80 meters for a 4-chain grid, 120 meters for a 6-chain grid, etc.
- The output file CRS should generally be your project CRS, so select that from the list.
- By default, a temporary layer of plots will be created, but you can click the 3-dot icon to the right and save this as a permanent layer.
- Click Run, and you’ll see a complete grid with plot number labels. If you aren’t satisfied with the particular configuration, remove that layer, tweak some settings and try again.
Let us know if you have any questions, or suggestions for additional resources.