Next Article in Journal
A Local Feature Descriptor Based on Oriented Structure Maps with Guided Filtering for Multispectral Remote Sensing Image Matching
Previous Article in Journal
Optimizing Field Data Collection for Individual Tree Attribute Predictions Using Active Learning Methods
Previous Article in Special Issue
Method to Reduce the Bias on Digital Terrain Model and Canopy Height Model from LiDAR Data
Article Menu
Issue 8 (April-2) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Terrestrial Structure from Motion Photogrammetry for Deriving Forest Inventory Data

Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, TU Wien, 1040 Vienna, Austria
Physical Geography, Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, 85072 Eichstätt, Germany
Department of Built Environment, Aalto University, 00076 Aalto, Finland
Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, 16500 Praha 6, Suchodol, Czech Republic
Department of Forest management and Geodesy, Faculty of Forestry, Technical University in Zvolen, 96053 Zvolen, Slovakia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(8), 950;
Received: 12 March 2019 / Revised: 17 April 2019 / Accepted: 18 April 2019 / Published: 20 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forests)
PDF [6918 KB, uploaded 20 April 2019]


The measurements of tree attributes required for forest monitoring and management planning, e.g., National Forest Inventories, are derived by rather time-consuming field measurements on sample plots, using calipers and measurement tapes. Therefore, forest managers and researchers are looking for alternative methods. Currently, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is the remote sensing method that provides the most accurate point clouds at the plot-level to derive these attributes from. However, the demand for even more efficient and effective solutions triggers further developments to lower the acquisition time, costs, and the expertise needed to acquire and process 3D point clouds, while maintaining the quality of extracted tree parameters. In this context, photogrammetry is considered a potential solution. Despite a variety of studies, much uncertainty still exists about the quality of photogrammetry-based methods for deriving plot-level forest attributes in natural forests. Therefore, the overall goal of this study is to evaluate the competitiveness of terrestrial photogrammetry based on structure from motion (SfM) and dense image matching for deriving tree positions, diameters at breast height (DBHs), and stem curves of forest plots by means of a consumer grade camera. We define an image capture method and we assess the accuracy of the photogrammetric results on four forest plots located in Austria and Slovakia, two in each country, selected to cover a wide range of conditions such as terrain slope, undergrowth vegetation, and tree density, age, and species. For each forest plot, the reference data of the forest parameters were obtained by conducting field surveys and TLS measurements almost simultaneously with the photogrammetric acquisitions. The TLS data were also used to estimate the accuracy of the photogrammetric ground height, which is a necessary product to derive DBHs and tree heights. For each plot, we automatically derived tree counts, tree positions, DBHs, and part of the stem curve from both TLS and SfM using a software developed at TU Wien (Forest Analysis and Inventory Tool, FAIT), and the results were compared. The images were oriented with errors of a few millimetres only, according to checkpoint residuals. The automatic tree detection rate for the SfM reconstruction ranges between 65% and 98%, where the missing trees have average DBHs of less than 12 cm. For each plot, the mean error of SfM and TLS DBH estimates is −1.13 cm and −0.77 cm with respect to the caliper measurements. The resulting stem curves show that the mean differences between SfM and TLS stem diameters is at maximum −2.45 cm up to 3 m above ground, which increases to almost +4 cm for higher elevations. This study shows that with the adopted image capture method, terrestrial SfM photogrammetry, is an accurate solution to support forest inventory for estimating the number of trees and their location, the DBHs and stem curve up to 3 m above ground. View Full-Text
Keywords: terrestrial photogrammetry; plot-based forest inventory; structure from motion; terrestrial laser scanning; diameter at breast height terrestrial photogrammetry; plot-based forest inventory; structure from motion; terrestrial laser scanning; diameter at breast height

Figure 1

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).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Piermattei, L.; Karel, W.; Wang, D.; Wieser, M.; Mokroš, M.; Surový, P.; Koreň, M.; Tomaštík, J.; Pfeifer, N.; Hollaus, M. Terrestrial Structure from Motion Photogrammetry for Deriving Forest Inventory Data. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 950.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Remote Sens. EISSN 2072-4292 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top