Accurate spatial information on forest roads is important for forest management and harvest operations. This study evaluated the positional accuracy, shape similarity, and cost of three mapping techniques: GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) mapping, CAD file conversion (as-built drawing), and image warping. We chose five road routes within the national forest road system in the Republic of Korea and made digital road maps using each technique. We then compared map accuracy to reference maps made from field surveys. The mapping and field-survey results were compared using point-correspondence, buffering analysis, shape index, and turning function methods. The comparisons indicate that GNSS mapping is the best technique because it generated the highest accuracy (Root Mean Square Error: GNSS mapping 1.28, image warping 7.13, CAD file conversion 13.35), the narrowest buffering width for 95% of the routes overlapped (buffering width: GNSS mapping 1.5 m, image warping 18 m, CAD file conversion 24 m), highest shape similarity (shape index: GNSS mapping 19.6–28.9, image warping 7.2–10.8, CAD file conversion 6.5–7.4), and smallest area size difference in turning function analysis (GNSS mapping 2814–4949, image warping 7972–26,256, CAD file conversion 8661–27,845). However, GNSS requires more time (236 min/km) and costs more ($139.64/km) to produce a digital road map as compared to CAD file conversion (99 min/km and $40.90/km) and image warping (180 min/km and $81.84/km). Managers must decide on the trade-off between accuracy and cost while considering the demand and purpose of maps. GNSS mapping can be used for small-scale mapping or short-haul routes that require a small error range. Image warping was the lowest cost and produced low-accuracy maps, but may be suitable for large-scale mapping at the regional or national level. CAD file conversion was expected to be the most accurate method, because it converted as-built drawings to a map. However, we found that it was the least accurate method, indicating low accuracy of the as-built drawings. Efforts should be made to improve the accuracy of the as-built drawings in Korea.
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