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Sensors 2008, 8(1), 529-560;

Spatially Explicit Large Area Biomass Estimation: Three Approaches Using Forest Inventory and Remotely Sensed Imagery in a GIS

Canadian Forest Service (Pacific Forestry Centre), Natural Resources Canada, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Centre d’Applications et de Recherches en Télédétection (CARTEL), Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
Canadian Forestry Service (Atlantic Forestry Centre), Natural Resources Canada, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 November 2007 / Accepted: 22 January 2008 / Published: 24 January 2008
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Natural Resources and the Environment)
Full-Text   |   PDF [3477 KB, uploaded 21 June 2014]


Forest inventory data often provide the required base data to enable the largearea mapping of biomass over a range of scales. However, spatially explicit estimates ofabove-ground biomass (AGB) over large areas may be limited by the spatial extent of theforest inventory relative to the area of interest (i.e., inventories not spatially exhaustive), orby the omission of inventory attributes required for biomass estimation. These spatial andattributional gaps in the forest inventory may result in an underestimation of large areaAGB. The continuous nature and synoptic coverage of remotely sensed data have led totheir increased application for AGB estimation over large areas, although the use of thesedata remains challenging in complex forest environments. In this paper, we present anapproach to generating spatially explicit estimates of large area AGB by integrating AGBestimates from multiple data sources; 1. using a lookup table of conversion factors appliedto a non-spatially exhaustive forest inventory dataset (R2 = 0.64; RMSE = 16.95 t/ha), 2.applying a lookup table to unique combinations of land cover and vegetation densityoutputs derived from remotely sensed data (R2 = 0.52; RMSE = 19.97 t/ha), and 3. hybridmapping by augmenting forest inventory AGB estimates with remotely sensed AGB estimates where there are spatial or attributional gaps in the forest inventory data. Over our714,852 ha study area in central Saskatchewan, Canada, the AGB estimate generated fromthe forest inventory was approximately 40 Mega tonnes (Mt); however, the inventoryestimate represents only 51% of the total study area. The AGB estimate generated from theremotely sensed outputs that overlap those made from the forest inventory based approachdiffer by only 2 %; however in total, the remotely sensed estimate is 30 % greater (58 Mt)than the estimate generated from the forest inventory when the entire study area isaccounted for. Finally, using the hybrid approach, whereby the remotely sensed inputswere used to fill spatial gaps in the forest inventory, the total AGB for the study area wasestimated at 62 Mt. In the example presented, data integration facilitates comprehensiveand spatially explicit estimation of AGB for the entire study area. View Full-Text
Keywords: above-ground biomass; forest; remote sensing; GIS; Landsat above-ground biomass; forest; remote sensing; GIS; Landsat
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Wulder, M.A.; White, J.C.; Fournier, R.A.; Luther, J.E.; Magnussen, S. Spatially Explicit Large Area Biomass Estimation: Three Approaches Using Forest Inventory and Remotely Sensed Imagery in a GIS. Sensors 2008, 8, 529-560.

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