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Remote Sens. 2011, 3(5), 945-961;

Comparison of Grid-Based and Segment-Based Estimation of Forest Attributes Using Airborne Laser Scanning and Digital Aerial Imagery

Finnish Forest Research Institute, Metsäntutkimuslaitos, PL 18, 01301 Vantaa, Finland
Haapanen Forest Consulting, Kärjenkoskentie 38, 64810 Vanhakylä, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 February 2011 / Revised: 4 March 2011 / Accepted: 2 May 2011 / Published: 12 May 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 100 Years ISPRS - Advancing Remote Sensing Science)
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Forest management planning in Finland is currently adopting a new-generation forest inventory method, which is based on interpretation of airborne laser scanning data and digital aerial images. The inventory method is based on a systematic grid, where the grid elements serve as inventory units, for which the laser and aerial image data are extracted and the forest variables estimated. As an alternative or a complement to the grid elements, image segments can be used as inventory units. The image segments are particularly useful as the basis for generation of the silvicultural treatment and cutting units since their boundaries should follow the actual stand borders, whereas when using grid elements it is typical that some of them cover parts of several forest stands. The proportion of the so-called mixed cells depends on the size of the grid elements and the average size and shape of the stands. In this study, we carried out automatic segmentation of two study areas on the basis of laser and aerial image data with a view to delineating micro-stands that are homogeneous in relation to their forest attributes. Further, we extracted laser and aerial image features for both systematic grid elements and segments. For both units, the feature set used for estimating the forest attributes was selected by means of a genetic algorithm. Of the features selected, the majority (61–79%) were based on the airborne laser scanning data. Despite the theoretical advantages of the image segments, the laser and aerial features extracted from grid elements seem to work better than features extracted from image segments in estimation of forest attributes. We conclude that estimation should be carried out at grid level with an area-specific combination of features and estimates for image segments to be derived on the basis of the grid-level estimates. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest inventory; airborne laser scanning; aerial photography; image segmentation forest inventory; airborne laser scanning; aerial photography; image segmentation

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Tuominen, S.; Haapanen, R. Comparison of Grid-Based and Segment-Based Estimation of Forest Attributes Using Airborne Laser Scanning and Digital Aerial Imagery. Remote Sens. 2011, 3, 945-961.

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