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Forests 2015, 6(11), 4245-4294;

SimpleTree —An Efficient Open Source Tool to Build Tree Models from TLS Clouds

Chair of Forest Growth, University of Freiburg, Tennenbacher Street 4, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
Department of Geography, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
Earth Observation, Climate and Optical Group, National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 0LW, UK
NERC National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), UCL Geography, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
Department of Mathematics, Tampere University of Technology, P.O. Box 553, Tampere 33101, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 July 2015 / Revised: 9 November 2015 / Accepted: 10 November 2015 / Published: 23 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Ground Observations through Terrestrial Point Clouds)


An open source tool named SimpleTree, capable of modelling highly accurate cylindrical tree models from terrestrial laser scan point clouds, is presented and evaluated. All important functionalities, accessible in the software via buttons and dialogues, are described including the explanation of all necessary input parameters. The method is validated utilizing 101 point clouds of six different tree species, in the main evergreen and coniferous trees. All scanned trees have been destructively harvested to get accurate estimates of above ground biomass with which we assess the accuracy of the SimpleTree-reconstructed cylinder models. The trees were grouped into four data sets and for each one a Concordance Correlation Coefficient of at least 0.92 (0.92, 0.97, 0.92, 0.94) and an total relative error at most ~8 % (2.42%, 3.59%, –4.59%, 8.27%) was achieved in the comparison of the model results to the ground truth data. A global statistical improvement of derived cylinder radii is presented as well as an efficient optimization approach to automatically improve user given input parameters. An additional check of the SimpleTree results is presented via comparison to the results of trees reconstructed using an alternative, published method. View Full-Text
Keywords: biomass; density; volume; TLS; forestry; tree; stem; branch; point cloud; open source; software biomass; density; volume; TLS; forestry; tree; stem; branch; point cloud; open source; software

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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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Hackenberg, J.; Spiecker, H.; Calders, K.; Disney, M.; Raumonen, P. SimpleTree —An Efficient Open Source Tool to Build Tree Models from TLS Clouds. Forests 2015, 6, 4245-4294.

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