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Remote Sens. 2017, 9(9), 875;

Classification of Tree Species in a Diverse African Agroforestry Landscape Using Imaging Spectroscopy and Laser Scanning

Earth Change Observation Laboratory, Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
Fisheries and Environmental Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 68, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE), Environmental Policy Centre, P.O. Box 140, FI-00251 Helsinki, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 July 2017 / Revised: 14 August 2017 / Accepted: 18 August 2017 / Published: 23 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hyperspectral Imaging and Applications)
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Airborne imaging spectroscopy (IS) and laser scanning (ALS) have been explored widely for tree species classification during the past decades. However, African agroforestry areas, where a few exotic tree species are dominant and many native species occur less frequently, have not yet been studied. Obtaining maps of tree species would provide useful information for the characterization of agroforestry systems and detecting invasive species. Our objective was to study tree species classification in a diverse tropical landscape using IS and ALS data at the tree crown level, with primary interest in the exotic tree species. We performed multiple analyses based on different IS and ALS feature sets, identified important features using feature selection, and evaluated the impact of combining the two data sources. Given that a high number of tree species with limited sample size (499 samples for 31 species) was expected to limit the classification accuracy, we tested different approaches to group the species based on the frequency of their occurrence and Jeffries–Matusita (JM) distance. Surface reflectance at wavelengths between 400–450 nm and 750–800 nm, and height to crown width ratio, were identified as important features. Nonetheless, a selection of minimum noise fraction (MNF) transformed reflectance bands showed superior performance. Support vector machine classifier performed slightly better than the random forest classifier, but the improvement was not statistically significant for the best performing feature set. The highest F1-scores were achieved when each of the species was classified separately against a mixed group of all other species, which makes this approach suitable for invasive species detection. Our results are valuable for organizations working on biodiversity conservation and improving agroforestry practices, as we showed how the non-native Eucalyptus spp., Acacia mearnsii and Grevillea robusta (mean F1-scores 76%, 79% and 89%, respectively) trees can be mapped with good accuracy. We also found a group of six fruit bearing trees using JM distance, which was classified with mean F1-score of 65%. This was a useful finding, as these species could not be classified with acceptable accuracy individually, while they all share common economic and ecological importance. View Full-Text
Keywords: imaging spectroscopy; airborne laser scanning; minimum noise fraction; class imbalance; Africa; agroforestry; tree species imaging spectroscopy; airborne laser scanning; minimum noise fraction; class imbalance; Africa; agroforestry; tree species

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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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Piiroinen, R.; Heiskanen, J.; Maeda, E.; Viinikka, A.; Pellikka, P. Classification of Tree Species in a Diverse African Agroforestry Landscape Using Imaging Spectroscopy and Laser Scanning. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 875.

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