We evaluated two unmanned aerial systems (UASs), namely the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and DJI Mavic Pro, for 3D forest structure mapping of the forest stand interior with the use of close-range photogrammetry techniques. Assisted flights were performed within two research plots established in mature pure Norway spruce (Picea abies
(L.) H. Karst.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica
L.) forest stands. Geotagged images were used to produce georeferenced 3D point clouds representing tree stem surfaces. With a flight height of 8 m above the ground, the stems were precisely modeled up to a height of 10 m, which represents a considerably larger portion of the stem when compared with terrestrial close-range photogrammetry. Accuracy of the point clouds was evaluated by comparing field-measured tree diameters at breast height (DBH) with diameter estimates derived from the point cloud using four different fitting methods, including the bounding circle, convex hull, least squares circle, and least squares ellipse methods. The accuracy of DBH estimation varied with the UAS model and the diameter fitting method utilized. With the Phantom 4 Pro and the least squares ellipse method to estimate diameter, the mean error of diameter estimates was −1.17 cm (−3.14%) and 0.27 cm (0.69%) for spruce and beech stands, respectively.
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