Remote Sens. 2012, 4(9), 2661-2693; doi:10.3390/rs4092661
Article

Tree Species Classification with Random Forest Using Very High Spatial Resolution 8-Band WorldView-2 Satellite Data

Institute of Surveying, Remote Sensing and Land Information (IVFL), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Peter Jordan Str. 82, A-1190 Vienna, Austria
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 July 2012; in revised form: 3 September 2012 / Accepted: 4 September 2012 / Published: 14 September 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Biological Diversity)
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Abstract: Tree species diversity is a key parameter to describe forest ecosystems. It is, for example, important for issues such as wildlife habitat modeling and close-to-nature forest management. We examined the suitability of 8-band WorldView-2 satellite data for the identification of 10 tree species in a temperate forest in Austria. We performed a Random Forest (RF) classification (object-based and pixel-based) using spectra of manually delineated sunlit regions of tree crowns. The overall accuracy for classifying 10 tree species was around 82% (8 bands, object-based). The class-specific producer’s accuracies ranged between 33% (European hornbeam) and 94% (European beech) and the user’s accuracies between 57% (European hornbeam) and 92% (Lawson’s cypress). The object-based approach outperformed the pixel-based approach. We could show that the 4 new WorldView-2 bands (Coastal, Yellow, Red Edge, and Near Infrared 2) have only limited impact on classification accuracy if only the 4 main tree species (Norway spruce, Scots pine, European beech, and English oak) are to be separated. However, classification accuracy increased significantly using the full spectral resolution if further tree species were included. Beside the impact on overall classification accuracy, the importance of the spectral bands was evaluated with two measures provided by RF. An in-depth analysis of the RF output was carried out to evaluate the impact of reference data quality and the resulting reliability of final class assignments. Finally, an extensive literature review on tree species classification comprising about 20 studies is presented.
Keywords: tree species classification; temperate forest; WorldView-2; Random Forest; linear discriminant analysis; variable importance measures; classification reliability

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MDPI and ACS Style

Immitzer, M.; Atzberger, C.; Koukal, T. Tree Species Classification with Random Forest Using Very High Spatial Resolution 8-Band WorldView-2 Satellite Data. Remote Sens. 2012, 4, 2661-2693.

AMA Style

Immitzer M, Atzberger C, Koukal T. Tree Species Classification with Random Forest Using Very High Spatial Resolution 8-Band WorldView-2 Satellite Data. Remote Sensing. 2012; 4(9):2661-2693.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Immitzer, Markus; Atzberger, Clement; Koukal, Tatjana. 2012. "Tree Species Classification with Random Forest Using Very High Spatial Resolution 8-Band WorldView-2 Satellite Data." Remote Sens. 4, no. 9: 2661-2693.

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