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USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station

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EnVision brochure (pdf format)

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tree rendering methods
EnVision renders individual trees using a variety of methods.

images depicting stand development
Linked with appropriate growth models, EnVision depicts stand development over time.

image depicting fuels reduction treatment
EnVision illustrates pre- and post-treatment fire risk by depicting dead trees, accumulated understory vegetation, and down fuels.

image showing different retention patterns
EnVision makes it possible to simulate different retention levels and patterns.  These images illustrate scenarios in which 20% of the basal area is retained in a dispersed pattern (top) or clumped pattern (bottom).

Few people--even forestry professionals--can look at a data table describing the trees in a timber stand data and visualize what it tells them. What if they could look at pictures, instead of numbers?   It is even harder to visualize how that timber stand or landscape would look in the future if it were managed in different ways.  Wouldn't it be nice if they could see how it might look in the future before they acted?

Computer-based landscape simulations are a valuable tool for previewing the visual impacts of land use decisions.  The simulations can:

  • Help communicate stand and landscape conditions
  • Show how stand and landscape conditions change with growth over time, natural disturbances, and management activities
  • EnVision Goals

  • Be able to realistically visualize the effects of different management treatments over time
  • Improve forest planning and consideration of management options
  • Increase communication to the public and thereby increase public involvement
  • EnVision Helps Visualize and Communicate Changes and Choices

    Developed by researchers at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, EnVision-the Environmental Visualization System-is a sophisticated computer simulation tool for illustrating stand- and landscape-scale projects.

    Foresters, biologists, and others charged with selecting stands for treatment and designing silvicultural prescriptions often find it difficult to imagine the complex interactions that occur across landscapes. Traditional work methods have not always provided enough information to fully evaluate the cumulative impact of an array of management choices.

    EnVision can help land managers and others understand the effect of proposed treatment designs as well as help answer questions such as How well does the design meet the overall goals? How does the proposed design affect different resource values?

    Forest managers of both public and private lands face a challenge when planning any kind of management activity: Will the public accept the way the landscape will look after proposed changes are made? How can they establish a dialogue about what the changes might look like on the landscape through time? EnVision shows particular promise for enhancing public communication.

    Key Attributes of EnVision

    EnVision is a full-featured image-generating system for stand- and landscape-scale projects. It builds on many of the concepts used to develop preceding visualization systems, such as Vantage Point, Stand Visualization System (SVS), and UVIEW. EnVision is based on a digital terrain model that defines the ground surface. Color and texture maps show ground surface characteristics and can create "synthetic aerial photos" or highlight areas of interest, such as roads, streams, or observation points. The program uses individual tree lists and can expand stand tables into individual trees within polygons. Three-dimensional objects range from simple "sticks" to photo-realistic icons representing trees and other vegetation.
  • EnVision scene definitions can include background imagery to depict distant landscape features; lighting control for time of day, month, or year; atmospheric effects such as clouds and fog; and foreground imagery.
  • The program renders individual images by using either a still camera model and a specific viewpoint or multiframe animation sequences by using a movie camera model and a series of viewpoint locations.
  • EnVision can work directly with existing forest inventory data.
  • The minimum data required to use EnVision are a digital terrain model to represent the ground surface, a polygon overlay that delineates individual stands, and stand inventory data or SVS files to represent each stand on the landscape.
  • Size of area is immaterial.  EnVision can visualize a whole landscape or plots of less than l acre.
  • EnVision can show elements using abstract or photo-realistic representations and offers several ways to render vegetation data.
  • Examples

  • Variable retention levels and patterns
  • Stand treatment examples
  • This page was last updated on June 11, 2018 by Bob McGaughey