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Forests 2017, 8(6), 215; doi:10.3390/f8060215

Comparing Airborne Laser Scanning, and Image-Based Point Clouds by Semi-Global Matching and Enhanced Automatic Terrain Extraction to Estimate Forest Timber Volume

1
Chair of Remote Sensing and Landscape Information Systems, Institute of Forest Sciences, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
2
Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA), 79110 Freiburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Christian Ginzler and Lars T. Waser
Received: 23 December 2016 / Revised: 8 June 2017 / Accepted: 15 June 2017 / Published: 17 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Forest Inventories with Remote Sensing Techniques)
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Abstract

Information pertaining to forest timber volume is crucial for sustainable forest management. Remotely-sensed data have been incorporated into operational forest inventories to serve the need for ever more diverse and detailed forest statistics and to produce spatially explicit data products. In this study, data derived from airborne laser scanning and image-based point clouds were compared using three volume estimation methods to aid wall-to-wall mapping of forest timber volume. Estimates of forest height and tree density metrics derived from remotely-sensed data are used as explanatory variables, and forest timber volumes based on sample field plots are used as response variables. When compared to data derived from image-based point clouds, airborne laser scanning produced slightly more accurate estimates of timber volume, with a root mean square error (RMSE) of 26.3% using multiple linear regression. In comparison, RMSEs for volume estimates derived from image-based point clouds were 28.3% and 29.0%, respectively, using Semi-Global Matching and enhanced Automatic Terrain Extraction methods. Multiple linear regression was the best-performing parameter estimation method when compared to k-Nearest Neighbour and Support Vector Machine. In many countries, aerial imagery is acquired and updated on regular cycles of 1–5 years when compared to more costly, once-off airborne laser scanning surveys. This study demonstrates point clouds generated from such aerial imagery can be used to enhance the estimation of forest parameters at a stand and forest compartment level-scale using small area estimation methods while at the same time achieving sampling error reduction and improving accuracy at the forest enterprise-level scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest inventory; stereo aerial photographs; Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR); multiple linear regression; k-Nearest Neighbour; Support Vector Machine forest inventory; stereo aerial photographs; Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR); multiple linear regression; k-Nearest Neighbour; Support Vector Machine
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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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Ullah, S.; Dees, M.; Datta, P.; Adler, P.; Koch, B. Comparing Airborne Laser Scanning, and Image-Based Point Clouds by Semi-Global Matching and Enhanced Automatic Terrain Extraction to Estimate Forest Timber Volume. Forests 2017, 8, 215.

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