The gap fractions of three mature hemi-boreal forest stands in Estonia were estimated using the LAI-2000 plant canopy analyzer ( LI-COR Biosciences, Lincoln, NE, USA), the TRAC instrument (Edgewall, Miami, FL, USA), Cajanus’ tube, hemispherical photos, as well as terrestrial (TLS) and airborne (ALS) laser scanners. ALS measurements with an 8-year interval confirmed that changes in the structure of mature forest stands are slow, and that measurements in the same season of different years should be well comparable. Gap fraction estimates varied considerably depending on the instruments and methods used. None of the methods considered for the estimation of gap fraction of forest canopies proved superior to others. The increasing spatial resolution of new ALS devices allows the canopy structure to be analyzed in more detail than was possible before. The high vertical resolution of point clouds improves the possibility of estimating the stand height, crown length, and clumping of foliage in the canopy. The clumping/regularity of the foliage in a forest canopy is correlated with tree height, crown length, and basal area. The method suggested herein for the estimation of foliage clumping allows the leaf area estimates of forest canopies to be improved.
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