Catena & Thermography
Catena & Thermography
Catena & Thermography
"Treethermography® since 1984"
Giorgio Catena 

was born in Rome in 1941, he's married with two daughters and has a degree in Chemistry. From 1970 to 2003, he worked as Senior Researcher at the Italian Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità - ISS), Rome, where he acquired and expanded his knowledge on thermal imaging and multi-spectral aerial photography, and applied them to the study of the environment. 


1967 - Degree in Chemistry, La Sapienza University, Rome, 
1975 - British Council (London, UK), course "Control of air and water pollution", 
1986 and 1990 - Italian Ministry of Defence, Guidonia Airport (Italy), course "Air photo and thermal images interpretation", 
1989 - G. Reiss Romoli Institute (L'Aquila, Italy), course "Atmospheric and Meteorological Remote Sensing", 
1997 - Associazione Italiana di Telerilevamento - Italian Remote Sensing Association - (ESA/ESRIN - Frascati, Italy), course "Use of Earth Observation Data in the Public Administration", 
1999 - ESRI Italia, ISS (Rome, Italy), course " Introduction to ArcView GIS", 
2001 - Course "Tree stability assessment and tree management in urban areas" organised by the Association of Agronomists and Foresters of Rome, 
2004 - Technical workshop held by Prof Klaus Mattheck "Tree Mechanics as an Innovator in Arboriculture practice", Maastricht, NL, 
2005 - Technical workshop held by   Michael Schlag "Integrated tree control: dynamic aspects of wood-decomposition in living trees", organised in Maastricht (NL) by BTL Bomendienst, 
2007 - Technical workshop held by   Michael Schlag "Fungi as decay producing agents: the silent enemies", in the context of the International Congress and Workshop "La gestione del verde pubblico: nuove tendenze e problematiche europee", Latina (Italy), 6-7 June


He held a few academic courses, including the following:
1968 - 1983, La Sapienza University of Rome, Chemistry Professor of the degree course in Biological Sciences,
1991 to 1994, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Contract Professor at the Specialization School of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, course "Remote Sensing Techniques in the study of the Environment", 
1991 - La Sapienza University of Rome, "Technology of productive cycles: environmental technologies", 
1998 - Italian Institute of Health, Rome, "Microbiological contamination of water bodies and contamination sources: sanitary and methodological aspects", 
1998 - Italian Institute of Health, Rome, "Health and Environment: priorities, monitoring methods, assessments and risk management". 

He held various workshops, including the following: 
1990 - La Sapienza University, Rome, "Aerial Photography and Thermography in the study of the Environment", 
1990 - Tuscia University, Viterbo (Italy), "Remote Sensing and its application to the analysis of the vegetation and environmental conditions", 
1990 - La Sapienza University, Rome, "Remote Sensing as an environmental monitoring tool", 
1991 - Tuscia University, Viterbo (Italy), "Remote Sensing for the study of the territory", 
1991 - Perugia University, "Remote Sensing for the detection of polluting sources", 
1998 - Italian Institute of Health, Rome (Italy), ABDMAP - Algal Bloom Detection Monitoring and Prediction, a Concerted Action funded by European Commission, 3rd Workshop "Public Health", 
2003 - Guest speaker at the 37th Arboricultural Association Annual Conference, ”Thermal Imaging for Tree Assessment”, Northampton (UK)
2004 and 2005 - BTL Bomendienst BV, Apeldoorn, NL, "Thermography for Tree Assessment", 
2005 - TEP Seminar Series - Tree Micro Ecology: Perceptions of Disease & Decay in Trees, Richmond Park, Greater London and Fountains Abbey, Ripon (UK), "Thermal Imaging", 
2010 - Guest speaker at the 44th Arboricultural Association Annual Conference, "Thermal imaging - current and future application", Manchester (UK)


1970 to 2003 - Senior Researcher of the Environmental Health Laboratory of the Italian Institute of Health, Rome (, 
1974 - He set up the Remote Sensing Unit at the ISS which he directed until 2003; he organised and managed 79 Projects over the years, flying over 600 hours in a number of locations in Italy on helicopters and Goodyear's Europa 2 dirigible, 
2003 - He resigned from the ISS and set up a Company, Catena & Thermography, to devote himself to developing Thermography applied to tree assessment. 

He was a member of the following organisations and committees as Thermography Expert: 
1976 - NATO's Marine Science Panel on the standardisation of the analyses needed in case of polluting spillages at sea, Venice, 
1976 to 1999 - He conducted thermal investigations for the Presidency of the Italian Republic, for some Italian Ministries and Regions and at the order of some magistrates, 
1977 to 1980 - Ad hoc Group for the selection of actions and methods to control coastal water quality in the Mediterranean, set up at the Italian Institute of Health, in the framework of the WHO-UNEP Pilot Project on the control of the quality of Mediterranean coastal waters (Med VII), 
1978 - Monitoring of recreational coastal water quality and shellfish culture areas within the framework of WHO/UNEP pilot project Med VII, 
1983 to 1985 - Commission appointed by the Italian President's Office for the protection of the trees of the Presidential estate of San Rossore (Pisa), 
1985 to 1989 - Commission appointed by the Italian President's Office to draft the working plan for the trees of the Presidential Estate in Castelporziano (Rome); on this occasion, he used thermography for the census of the wildlife from the ground and onboard helicopters,
1997 to 1999 - Concerted Action on Algal Bloom Detection, Monitoring and Prediction (ABDMAP), European Commission Framework IV, Centre for Earth Observation: a European project for the study of the problem of toxic algal blooms in European seas. 


He took an interest in the use of Remote Sensing and Thermography in various sectors over the years, to later devote himself to Thermography-aided tree stability assessment. In over thirty years of work, he has gathered over 40,000 pictures and thermograms, that were taken both from the ground and in flight. 
1973 - Together with his assistant Lanfranco Palla, he started using Remote Sensing techniques, in particular Thermography, which had only just started to be used in the civil sector, to study environmental pollution, 

1974 - 2003 He set up the Remote Sensing Unit at the ISS which he managed until he resigned from the ISS. The Unit employed Thermography and Aerial Photography to spot water effluents, algal blooms, underground archaeological finds, scattered landfills, to take censuses of ungulates in the wild, and as a support to chemical and microbiological analyses to assess bathing waters, etc. In this sector, this has helped him develop a system that combines aerial pictures of coast areas with thermal images of the coast and identifies polluting sources and helps fight the pollution of bathing waters. Dr Catena was convinced that trees were an actual pollution indicator, therefore he started studying the possibility of using special IR films to detect pollution-caused diseases in trees. This method was first applied in 1983 at the Presidential estate of San Rossore (Pisa), in the context of studies on the deterioration of the pinewood. Animal census was one of the issues of interest for Dr Catena, in fact he applied Thermography to the study of ungulates, wild boars and deer, in case of thick wood or forest, where these animals may pose a serious problem to manage the territory. In case of thick forests, traditional animal censuses may take a long time, are expensive and require a lot of personnel. Dr Catena thought of flying an IR camera on the areas of interest to visualise and count animals as their body temperature was higher than the surrounding environment and made them visible. He has demonstrated the applicability of the method also in the summer, with no snow, unlike what was stated by articles published in the United States. He also suggested using this technique to study the behaviour of the bat population,
1984 - He introduced Thermography in tree assessment, with his assistant Lanfranco Palla, thus creating a truly non invasive system that can detect decay and cavities in tree trunks and branches from a distance and from the ground, while also visualizing residual healthy tissue and highlighting decay and cavities in the root system, unlike any other apparatus, and generating Thermography-aided tree stability assessment - Treethermography® - TTH. As a matter of fact Dr Catena soon realised that the system showed decay and cavities because it could assess tree tissue vitality. That is why, the system "sees" root decay without unearthing roots, assesses vitality in veteran trees and shows rejuvenating tissue before the process is visible from the outside. This intuition was confirmed when trees that had not been considered as dangerous and left standing were re-assessed. Dr Catena developed a case study of a few thousand examined trees - conifers, broadleaved and palm trees: in over 300 cases, he could confirm the diagnosis with invasive apparatuses, by introducing probes in existing holes or also after felling the trees that were deemed dangerous, 

2003 - to date, After he resigned from the ISS, he set up his Company, Catena&Thermography, with his daughter, Alessandra, who graduated in Forestry and Environmental Sciences from Tuscia University, Viterbo, with the aim to disseminate the use of Treethermography® - TTH. To this end, they went to the UK, Netherlands, and Germany, on a number of occasions, in order to conduct measurements, introduce the method and deliver Presentations in congresses or for public bodies and/or specialised users. After closing the company, he has continued with research studies - especially with the re-assessment of the trees examined over 20 years ago, moreover, he writes articles and teaches the technique to arboriculturists and thermal imaging experts who want to use it. The possibility that he has had to re-analyse the same trees over time, even after many years, gave him a unique experience and competence. He is author and co-author of over 100 articles (over 50 on Treethermography® - TTH) published in national and international journals; he delivered Presentations with his daughter Alessandra at Italian and International Congresses and Workshops. Until he resigned he has been a member of the SIA (ISA - Italian Chapter) and the Remote Sensing Society (UK), now Remote Sensing and Photogrammetric Society - RSPSoc (UK) for 26 years. He is member of the Arboricultural Association (UK).


Giorgio Catena taking pictures from

Giorgio Catena taking pictures from
an A109 helicopter

pollarded lime tree

A previously pollarded lime tree (Tilia spp.) only shows a large, longitudinal crack at the base

root level and a cavity going from the base to the bifurcation

This mosaic of  TIs taken with a thermal scanner of the end of the 1960s shows a large decayed area at the root level and a cavity going from the base to the bifurcation

Catena & Thermography

Catena & Thermography

Catena & Thermography

any explanation needed?

Giorgio Catena delivering a presentation in the Netherlands

Giorgio Catena delivering a presentation in the Netherlands

The Infrared aerial photo

The Infrared aerial photo (Photographic, not thermal infrared!!!) of three plane-trees (identified by black arrows) shows a severe alteration in the tree on the left (see Papers, E2)

33, Via Peveragno - 00166 Rome - Italy Tel/Fax +39(0)6 6637187 Mob: +39 340 7016037 

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