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Sensors 2014, 14(8), 14994-15008; doi:10.3390/s140814994

Automated In-Situ Laser Scanner for Monitoring Forest Leaf Area Index

1
CSIRO Land & Water, Private Bag 10, Clayton South, VIC 3169, Australia
2
Environmental Sensing Systems, 16 Mawby Road, Bentleigh East, VIC 3165, Australia
3
Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, VIC 3002, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 June 2014 / Revised: 7 August 2014 / Accepted: 7 August 2014 / Published: 14 August 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agriculture and Forestry: Sensors, Technologies and Procedures)
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Abstract

An automated laser rangefinding instrument was developed to characterize overstorey and understorey vegetation dynamics over time. Design criteria were based on information needs within the statewide forest monitoring program in Victoria, Australia. The ground-based monitoring instrument captures the key vegetation structural information needed to overcome ambiguity in the estimation of forest Leaf Area Index (LAI) from satellite sensors. The scanning lidar instrument was developed primarily from low cost, commercially accessible components. While the 635 nm wavelength lidar is not ideally suited to vegetation studies, there was an acceptable trade-off between cost and performance. Tests demonstrated reliable range estimates to live foliage up to a distance of 60 m during night-time operation. Given the instrument’s scan angle of 57.5 degrees zenith, the instrument is an effective tool for monitoring LAI in forest canopies up to a height of 30 m. An 18 month field trial of three co-located instruments showed consistent seasonal trends and mean LAI of between 1.32 to 1.56 and a temporal LAI variation of 8 to 17% relative to the mean.
Keywords: Lidar; rangefinding; forest; LAI; canopy; VEGNET Lidar; rangefinding; forest; LAI; canopy; VEGNET
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Culvenor, D.S.; Newnham, G.J.; Mellor, A.; Sims, N.C.; Haywood, A. Automated In-Situ Laser Scanner for Monitoring Forest Leaf Area Index. Sensors 2014, 14, 14994-15008.

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