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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(8), 9632-9654;

Inventory of Small Forest Areas Using an Unmanned Aerial System

Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, PO Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, Norway
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Lars T. Waser and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 12 May 2015 / Revised: 13 July 2015 / Accepted: 20 July 2015 / Published: 29 July 2015
PDF [1385 KB, uploaded 29 July 2015]


Acquiring high spatial and temporal resolution imagery from small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) provides new opportunities for inventorying forests at small scales. Only a few studies have investigated the use of UASs in forest inventories, and the results are inconsistent and incomplete. The present study used three-dimensional (3D) variables derived from UAS imagery in combination with ground reference data to fit linear models for Lorey’s mean height (hL), dominant height (hdom), stem number (N), basal area (G), and stem volume (V). Plot-level cross validation revealed adjusted R2 values of 0.71, 0.97, 0.60, 0.60, and 0.85 for hL, hdom, N, G, and V, respectively, with corresponding RMSE values of 1.4 m, 0.7 m, 538.2 ha−1, 4.5 m2∙ha−1, and 38.3 m3∙ha−1. The respective relative RMSE values were 13.3%, 3.5%, 39.2%, 15.4%, and 14.5% of the mean ground reference values. The mean predicted values did not differ significantly from the reference values. The results revealed that the use of UAS imagery can provide relatively accurate and timely forest inventory information at a local scale. In addition, the present study highlights the practical advantages of UAS-assisted forest inventories, including adaptive planning, high project customization, and rapid implementation, even under challenging weather conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: UAS; forest inventory; area-based approach; structure from motion; photogrammetry UAS; forest inventory; area-based approach; structure from motion; photogrammetry

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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).

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Puliti, S.; Ørka, H.O.; Gobakken, T.; Næsset, E. Inventory of Small Forest Areas Using an Unmanned Aerial System. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 9632-9654.

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