Prototype Forest Visualization Technology Shows Promising Future for Landowner Education

The future of forestry is here. Leading up to the public launch of our new forest visualization technology, Stand Designer, we would like to share the results from some of the first projects to use Visual Forester technology. For this blog, we are highlighting a video project that we completed in 2020 in collaboration with My Sierra Woods. The project was to create a short series of educational videos that assist small landowners in California with understanding the methods and benefits of understory thinning.

forest visualization technology

My Sierra Woods is a partnership between the American Forest Foundation and a multitude of local California organizations which helps to connect family forests with knowledgeable foresters and grant funding opportunities. The resources provided by My Sierra Woods help small landowners to actively manage their forestland or to replant and restore forests that have been impacted by fire. This work benefits landowners, communities, and forests by improving fire resiliency and forest health, particularly in California’s wildland-urban interface.

Finding purpose with prototype tools

The Visual Forester team at Alpine LIS was happy to assist with the mission of My Sierra Woods. Using prototype Visual Forester software tools and some custom development, we produced digital visualizations depicting harvests, equipment, and wildfires—both historic and present. The Visual Forester team then used these visualizations to produce a three-part narrated video series which totals about ten minutes. This project involved a lot of exciting firsts and was a very fun challenge for the Visual Forester team.

For this video production, we took advantage of our developer environment and some prototype-only features to create unique and dynamic large-scale scenes. You won’t find all of these features in the first release of Stand Designer, but with enough support, we would love to continue developing new features for Visual Forester solutions.

grow gif

Telling the story 

Part of the fun of this project was the opportunity to step out of software development and into film production. Working closely with My Sierra Woods, we started by discussing some open-ended thoughts and ideas for the project, then funneled them down to create a set of specific project objectives, a target audience, and a distribution plan. With this framework in place, we went through a process of storyboarding and scriptwriting to plan out the videos. Then, we dove into building datasets, scenes, camera tracks, and video recordings. As the video recordings were wrapping up, we turned to narration and found a great voice actor from New York to provide the voice-over we were looking for. With all of the media in place, we edited together the final product and turned it over to My Sierra Woods to use and distribute.

forest visualization technology truck


My Sierra Woods now hosts these videos on a webpage titled Forestry 101 (note, this page is not searchable and you will need the direct link to see it). This webpage was constructed as a resource for California foresters who needed a visual aid to point to when helping landowners understand what to expect from an understory thinning on their property. The videos help the landowners to build a mental picture and an understanding of what the foresters are advising for the most common fuels reduction treatments. This helps build trust and confidence between the landowners and the foresters, helping projects to move forwards. 

The foresters and partner organizations we heard from were very excited to get access to these visual resources and we have heard some great positive responses. In particular, viewers have praised the third video in the series which tells a visual story of resilient historic forests that were filled in over time by more dense and uniform forests, making them less resilient. It ends by showing how these risks can be reduced in part through active management like understory thinning.

low compression trees

Take a look at the webpage and watch the videos to judge the results for yourself. Additionally, My Sierra Woods has encouraged us to share these videos, so don’t hesitate to use them if they would be helpful in your own work and outreach. 

This is just one example of the potential for Visual Forester technology to improve comprehension of forestry concepts. With the release of Stand Designer, we are very excited to see people and organizations like My Sierra Woods produce their own educational materials that help communities build a stronger understanding of their forests and management alternatives.



For more information about My Sierra Woods and about usage permissions for this video series, contact: 

Chantz Joyce /


For more information about Visual Forester and other video content advice, contact:

Johnathan Tenny /