ArcGIS Online

Manage Forest Harvest and Chemical Activities

Forestry and the practice of actively managing natural resources has historically been one of the earliest adopters of GIS.  The use of mapping to track forest assets, environmental compliance, and associated activities allows forest managers to effectively manage costs and communicate need.

Let’s go through a step-by-step workflow for creating a feature layer from the forest activity tracking template. In this example, we’ll create a feature layer for capturing harvest block locations along with the associated forest and stand maturity data in related tables.  We will also create and track treatment activities including harvesting, thinning, and chemical applications.

Create a feature layer using a template

Step 1:  Sign in to ArcGIS Online with your ArcGIS account and go to the Content page.

You’ll need privileges to publish hosted feature layers. If you don’t have these privileges, contact your administrator or join the Learn ArcGIS organization for a free 60-day membership.

Step 2:  From the My Content tab, click Create, and select Feature Layer from the drop-down list.

Feature Layer selected from Create drop-down list

Step 3: Click Forestry, choose the Forest Activity Tracking template, and click Create.

Step 4: Include the four default layers and related tables and click Next.

Default layers included in new layer

Step 5: Set the map extent to your area of interest by panning and zooming or typing in the exact coordinates.

Extent set by pan and zoom or entering coordinates

Step 6: Set the item properties of the feature layer including a title and tags. By choosing meaningful tags, your feature layer will be more discoverable to those who have access to the layer, thus enabling easy search and discovery. A summary, though optional, can provide additional context. Click Done to publish your layer.

Item properties for the feature layer

Your new feature layer is now published with the appropriate related tables.

You want to use the layer to collect data with Collector for ArcGIS, so you’ll set a few editing properties on the layer and add it to a map.

Completed forestry activity model

Step 7: In the item details under Settings, ensure your new feature layer is editable by selecting the appropriate options for field data collection. You can choose to monitor or keep track of created and updated features as well as who can see or edit features.

Editing options for feature layer

Every organization has their own set of requirements for determining what information to capture. You may need to make an adjustment to the feature layer to accommodate a new or different piece of information – for instance adding a new field. This can be done directly in the Data tab of the item details.

Step 8 (optional): To add a new field to your layer, click DataFields, and click + Add.

You can also change how the information is captured by creating and editing domains for each field.

Step 9 (optional): Click a field to open the details and edit the domain list. In the example below, we have chosen to examine the HarvestActivity layer and edit the ‘Harvest Method’ field. Click Save to finish.

New field added to feature layer

Our forest activity tracking template is ready for use.  A forester can use the layer with Collector for ArcGIS to map a new harvest activity or chemical treatment. The associated related tables can be used to collect detailed information on the type of crop harvested or type of chemical applied during a treatment.

Create a map to use with Collector

We can use Collector for ArcGIS to add new features and even edit existing features in our new feature layer. To do this, our new forest activity tracking layer must be added to a map and configured for used with Collector. Here’s how:

Step 1: From My Content , click View item details for your new feature layer.

Step 2: From the overview tab, click Open in Map Viewer and choose Add to New Map.

Step 3: Save your new map and share it with your foresters and field personnel. For example, you can share it to a group and invite the workers to join the group.

Step 4: Have your field personnel sign in to Collector, find your map, and begin collecting data.


Once you’ve created your map, you’re ready to start collecting data. Below are a few examples of how you can use your forest activity tracking collector map.

Map a new harvest activity and capture information about the crop harvested.

Map a new chemical treatment and capture information about the type and amount of chemical applied.

Manage the information you capture and control how you view the data.

Measure distances and areas, get directions, or even take photos and add attachments.


Feature layer templates provide new and traditional GIS users with the tools and means to collect new data or edit existing data while maintaining data integrity. A forestry company can map new and existing stands or blocks, monitor harvest activities, evaluate chemical applications and treatment activities, and plan better forest management.

The same template created here can be plugged into other ArcGIS applications. It can be added to a configurable app like Operations Dashboard and used to monitor the status of activities in real-time. Or it could be added to a map within ArcGIS Pro for more complex analysis and data management. The flexibility of templates allows you to deliver meaningful information products that add value to your everyday workflows.

Harvest activity dashboard

About the author

Scott is a solution engineer on the Natural Resources team at Esri. He works with organizations in the petroleum, forestry, and renewables industries to incorporate location intelligence and GIS into solutions that address business challenges. His prior experience includes various roles as a GIS professional in the energy industry.


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