Joan E. Luther

Research Scientist

Remote Sensing and Geospatial Information Science

Natural Resources Canada

Current research and/or projects


I have been a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service since 2003. I am also an adjunct professor with Memorial University and the Université de Sherbrooke. My research interest is in the use of earth observation data and geospatial information to support sustainable resource management. During my career, I have had the fortunate opportunity to work on several large projects including: Earth Observation for Sustainable Development of Forests (EOSD), the Newfoundland Fibre Inventory Project, and Assessment of Wood Attributes from Remote Sensing (AWARE). My most rewarding work experiences have involved collaborations and working with young professionals and students.

Research and/or project statements

Current Research Projects:

  • Mapping fibre attributes from forest and environmental variables in Newfoundland.
  • Improving forest inventory information for operational and strategic forest management planning.
  • Monitoring indicators of land cover and forest change using satellite imagery and geographic information systems.

Professional activities / interests

Current Graduate Student Advisory Committees:

  • Chelsea Flemming, Memorial University,  Development of an integrated ecosystem services framework for landscape managment  (Co-supervisor).
  • Mélodie Bujold, Université de Sherbrooke, Strategies for mapping forest attributes of Newfoundland boreal forest using airborne LiDAR transects (Co-supervisor).
  • Aurélie Schmidt, Université de Sherbrooke, Development of spatially-explicit indicators to map ecosystem services (Co-supervisor).

Areas of interest:

  • Development of geospatial approaches, methods and models that integrate remote sensing and geographical information systems data to monitor forest landscapes and provide spatially-explicit data and information to support inventory, monitoring and forecasting within an ecosystem-based management framework.

Education and awards


B.Sc. (Hons.) in Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1987.

M.Sc. in Geography with specialization in Remote Sensing, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1989.


Canadian Forest Service Merit Award for Leadership, Newfoundland Fibre Inventory Project, 2011.

Canadian Forest Service Merit Award for Exceptional Achievement, National Forest Inventory, 2009.

Natural Resources Canada  (NRCan) Departmental Merit Award for Collaboration and Partnership, Earth Observation for Sustainable Development of Forests Project, 2006.

NRCan Departmental Merit Award for Collaboration and Partnership, Individual achievement award for building strong partnerships through collaborative research in remote sensing across Canada, 2003.

James M. Kitz Award, Canadian Institute of Forestry, 2002.

Canadian Remote Sensing Society Best MSc Thesis Award, 1990.

Governor General’s Gold Medal, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1989.

Key publications

  1. Blanchette, D.; Fournier, R.A.; Luther, J.E.; Côté, J.-F. 2015. Predicting wood fibre attributes using local scale metrics from terrestrial LiDAR data: A case study over the conifer stands of Newfoundland. For. Ecol. Manage. 347:116-129. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2015.03.013.
  2. Groot, A.; Luther, J.E. 2015. Hierarchical analysis of black spruce and balsam fir wood density in Newfoundland. Can. J. For. Res. 45: 805-816. doi:10.1139/cjfr-2015-0064.
  3. Eddy, B.G.; Hearn, B.; Luther, J.E.; van Zyll de Jong, M.; Bowers, W.; Parsons, R.; Piercey, D.; Strickland, G.; Wheeler, B. 2014. An information ecology approach to science-policy integration in adaptive management of social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society, 19(3): 40. doi:10.5751/ES-06752-190340.
  4. Lessard, E.; Fournier, R.A.; Luther, J.E.; Mazerolle, M.J.; van Lier, O.R. 2014. Modeling wood fibre attributes from forest inventory and environmental data: case of Newfoundland’s boreal forest. For. Ecol. Manage. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2013.10.030.
  5. White, J.C.; Wulder, M.A.; Hobart, G,W.; Luther, J.E.; Hermosilla, T.; Griffiths, P.; Coops, N.C.; Hall, R.J.; Hostert, P.; Dyk, A.; Guindon. L. 2014. Pixel-based image compositing for large-area dense time series applications and science. Can. J. of Remote Sens., 40:3, 192-212. doi:10.1080/07038992.2014.945827.

For more publications by this author, consult the CFS publications database.


Adjunct Professor, Département de géomatique appliquée, Université de Sherbrooke (since November 2003)

Adjunct Professor, Division of Social Science (Environmental Studies), Memorial University of Newfoundland (since September 2013)