Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) has been successfully used for three-dimensional (3D) data capture in forests for almost two decades. Beyond the plot-based data capturing capabilities of TLS, vehicle-based mobile laser scanning (MLS) systems have the clear advantage of fast and precise corridor-like 3D data capture, thus providing a much larger coverage within shorter acquisition time. This paper compares and discusses advantages and disadvantages of multi-temporal MLS data acquisition compared to established TLS data recording schemes. In this pilot study on integrated TLS and MLS data processing in a forest, it could be shown that existing TLS data evaluation routines can be used for MLS data processing. Methods of automatic laser scanner data processing for forest inventory parameter determination and quantitative structure model (QSM) generation were tested in two sample plots using data from both scanning methods and from different seasons. TLS in a multi-scan configuration delivers very high-density 3D point clouds, which form a valuable basis for generating high-quality QSMs. The pilot study shows that MLS is able to provide high-quality data for an equivalent determination of relevant forest inventory parameters compared to TLS. Parameters such as tree position, diameter at breast height (DBH) or tree height can be determined from MLS data with an accuracy similar to the accuracy of the parameter derived from TLS data. Results for instance in DBH determination by cylinder fitting yielded a standard deviation of 1.1 cm for trees in TLS data and 3.7 cm in MLS data. However, the resolution of MLS scans was found insufficient for successful QSM generation. The registration of MLS data in forests furthermore requires additional effort in considering effects caused by poor GNSS signal.
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