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Forests 2015, 6(12), 4510-4528; doi:10.3390/f6124386

Wall-to-Wall Forest Mapping Based on Digital Surface Models from Image-Based Point Clouds and a NFI Forest Definition

1
Department of Landuse Dynamics, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Zuercherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
2
Scientific Service Swiss NFI, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Joanne C. White
Received: 16 September 2015 / Revised: 30 November 2015 / Accepted: 4 December 2015 / Published: 11 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Image-Based Point Clouds for Forest Inventory Applications)
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Abstract

Forest mapping is an important source of information for assessing woodland resources and a key issue for any National Forest Inventory (NFI). In the present study, a detailed wall-to-wall forest cover map was generated for all of Switzerland, which meets the requirement of the Swiss NFI forest definition. The workflow is highly automated and based on digital surface models from image-based point clouds of airborne digital sensor data. It fully takes into account the four key criteria of minimum tree height, crown coverage, width, and land use. The forest cover map was validated using almost 10,000 terrestrial and stereo-interpreted NFI plots, which verified 97% agreement overall. This validation implies different categories such as five production regions, altitude, tree type, and distance to the forest border. Overall accuracy was lower at forest borders but increased with increasing distance from the forest border. Commission errors remained stable at around 10%, but increased to 17.6% at the upper tree line. Omission errors were low at 1%–10%, but also increased with altitude and mainly occurred at the upper tree line (19.7%). The main reasons for this are the lower image quality and the NFI height definition for forest which apparently excludes shrub forest from the mask. The presented forest mapping approach is superior to existing products due to its national coverage, high level of detail, regular updating, and implementation of the land use criteria. View Full-Text
Keywords: land use; canopy height model; airborne digital sensor; NFI plots; stratification land use; canopy height model; airborne digital sensor; NFI plots; stratification
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Waser, L.T.; Fischer, C.; Wang, Z.; Ginzler, C. Wall-to-Wall Forest Mapping Based on Digital Surface Models from Image-Based Point Clouds and a NFI Forest Definition. Forests 2015, 6, 4510-4528.

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