A forest inventory is often carried out using airborne laser data combined with ground measured reference data. Traditionally, the ground reference data have been collected manually with a caliper combined with land surveying equipment. During recent years, studies have shown that the caliper can be replaced by equipment and methods that capture the ground reference data more efficiently. In this study, we compare three different ground based laser measurement methods: terrestrial laser scanner, handheld laser scanner and a backpack laser scanner. All methods are compared with traditional measurements. The study area is located in southeastern Norway and divided into seven different locations with different terrain morphological characteristics and tree density. The main tree species are boreal, dominated by Norway spruce and Scots pine. To compare the different methods, we analyze the estimated tree stem diameter, tree position and data capture efficiency. The backpack laser scanning method captures the data in one operation. For this method, the estimated diameter at breast height has the smallest mean differences of 0.1 cm, the smallest root mean square error of 2.2 cm and the highest number of detected trees with 87.5%, compared to the handheld laser scanner method and the terrestrial laser scanning method. We conclude that the backpack laser scanner method has the most efficient data capture and can detect the largest number of trees.
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