Special Issue "3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ramón Alberto Díaz-Varela
Website
Guest Editor
Research Group BioAplic (Biodiversity and Applied Botany), Department of Botany, Higher Polytechnic Engineering School, University of Santiago de Compostela, Lugo 27002, Spain
Interests: vegetation structure mapping; vegetation dynamics; RPAS data analysis; multispectral remote sensing; biodiversity monitoring
Dr. Eduardo Manuel Gonzalez Ferreiro
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Mining Technology, Surveying and Infrastructure, GI 202 - GEOINCA, Campus of Ponferrada, University of León 24401 Ponferrada (León), Spain
Interests: ALS; Photogrammetry clouds; Forest inventory; Forest fires; Forest monitoring; Forest modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

3D point clouds have become a well stablished data source for characterizing and monitoring forest structure. Particularly, the use of such data from active sensors, like airborne LiDAR, has confirmed its interest in forest studies from its early development in the 1970’s and 1980’s, to the establishment of robust and cost-efficient systems from the 1990’s onwards, due to the improvement of global positioning and inertial units (GNSS/IMU). Even though airborne LiDAR has been the prevalent technology in forest 3D point cloud acquisition, other alternative or complementary technologies has been also present in forest studies at different scales in the last decades, namely airborne/shuttle/satellite radar, terrain laser scanning or photogrammetry from either photogrammetric or consumer grade cameras. Regarding the latter, the fast evolving of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), along with the streamlining of consumer grade cameras data processing by computer vision software, has popularized the use of ultra-high resolution 3D point clouds at an unprecedent cost-efficiency and spatial-temporal flexibility for local scale studies.

This Special Issue aims at studies covering different uses of 3D point clouds acquired by different sensors and platforms in forest sciences. Topics may cover anything from the classical estimation of forest variables at a tree or stand level, to more comprehensive aims and scales. Hence, multisource data integration (e.g., multispectral, hyperspectral, and thermal), multiscale approaches or studies focused on forest ecosystem services monitoring, among other issues, are welcome. Articles may address, but are not limited, to the following topics:

  • Tree and stand variables inventory
  • Forest land cover mapping and pattern analysis
  • Forest planning and management
  • Forest ecology
  • Forest change
  • Biodiversity and wildlife
  • Forest fuel and fire studies
  • Biotic and abiotic forest damage
  • Biomass
  • Forest plants functional traits
  • Carbon cycle/sequestration
  • Terrain analysis

Dr. Ramón Alberto Díaz Varela
Dr. Eduardo Manuel Gonzalez Ferreiro
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Forest inventory
  • Forest structure and function
  • Forest dynamics
  • Structure from motion
  • Airborne laser scanning
  • Terrain laser scanning
  • 3D point cloud analysis
  • Spectral and structural data fusion

Published Papers (19 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Application of UAV Photogrammetry with LiDAR Data to Facilitate the Estimation of Tree Locations and DBH Values for High-Value Timber Species in Northern Japanese Mixed-Wood Forests
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(17), 2865; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12172865 - 03 Sep 2020
Abstract
High-value timber species play an important economic role in forest management. The individual tree information for such species is necessary for practical forest management and for conservation purposes. Digital aerial photogrammetry derived from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV-DAP) can provide fine spatial and [...] Read more.
High-value timber species play an important economic role in forest management. The individual tree information for such species is necessary for practical forest management and for conservation purposes. Digital aerial photogrammetry derived from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV-DAP) can provide fine spatial and spectral information, as well as information on the three-dimensional (3D) structure of a forest canopy. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data enable area-wide 3D tree mapping and provide accurate forest floor terrain information. In this study, we evaluated the potential use of UAV-DAP and LiDAR data for the estimation of individual tree location and diameter at breast height (DBH) values of large-size high-value timber species in northern Japanese mixed-wood forests. We performed multiresolution segmentation of UAV-DAP orthophotographs to derive individual tree crown. We used object-based image analysis and random forest algorithm to classify the forest canopy into five categories: three high-value timber species, other broadleaf species, and conifer species. The UAV-DAP technique produced overall accuracy values of 73% and 63% for classification of the forest canopy in two forest management sub-compartments. In addition, we estimated individual tree DBH Values of high-value timber species through field survey, LiDAR, and UAV-DAP data. The results indicated that UAV-DAP can predict individual tree DBH Values, with comparable accuracy to DBH prediction using field and LiDAR data. The results of this study are useful for forest managers when searching for high-value timber trees and estimating tree size in large mixed-wood forests and can be applied in single-tree management systems for high-value timber species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Machine Learning Algorithms to Predict Tree-Related Microhabitats using Airborne Laser Scanning
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(13), 2142; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12132142 - 03 Jul 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
In the last few years, the occurrence and abundance of tree-related microhabitats and habitat trees have gained great attention across Europe as indicators of forest biodiversity. Nevertheless, observing microhabitats in the field requires time and well-trained staff. For this reason, new efficient semiautomatic [...] Read more.
In the last few years, the occurrence and abundance of tree-related microhabitats and habitat trees have gained great attention across Europe as indicators of forest biodiversity. Nevertheless, observing microhabitats in the field requires time and well-trained staff. For this reason, new efficient semiautomatic systems for their identification and mapping on a large scale are necessary. This study aims at predicting microhabitats in a mixed and multi-layered Mediterranean forest using Airborne Laser Scanning data through the implementation of a Machine Learning algorithm. The study focuses on the identification of LiDAR metrics useful for detecting microhabitats according to the recent hierarchical classification system for Tree-related Microhabitats, from single microhabitats to the habitat trees. The results demonstrate that Airborne Laser Scanning point clouds support the prediction of microhabitat abundance. Better prediction capabilities were obtained at a higher hierarchical level and for some of the single microhabitats, such as epiphytic bryophytes, root buttress cavities, and branch holes. Metrics concerned with tree height distribution and crown density are the most important predictors of microhabitats in a multi-layered forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Stratifying Forest Overstory for Improving Effective LAI Estimation Based on Aerial Imagery and Discrete Laser Scanning Data
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(13), 2126; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12132126 - 02 Jul 2020
Abstract
Accurately mapping forest effective leaf area index (LAIe) at the landscape level is a crucial step to better simulate various ecological and physiological processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, and precipitation interception. The LAIe products obtained from two-dimensional (2-D) remotely sensed optical imageries [...] Read more.
Accurately mapping forest effective leaf area index (LAIe) at the landscape level is a crucial step to better simulate various ecological and physiological processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, and precipitation interception. The LAIe products obtained from two-dimensional (2-D) remotely sensed optical imageries are usually biased due to their inability to identify the vertical forest structure and eliminate the effects of forest background (i.e., shrubs, grass, snow, and bare earth). In this study, we first stratified the forest overstory and background layers and generated a forest background mask layer based on the structural information implicitly contained within the aerial laser scanning (ALS) data. We improved the retrieval accuracy of LAIe by combining light detection and ranging (Lidar)-based three dimensional (3-D) structural and 2-D spectral information. Then, we obtained the improved final LAIe estimation result by masking the forest background pixels from the optical remotely sensed imageries. Our results showed that: (1) Removing forest background information could effectively (R2 increase from 20% to 30%) improve the estimation accuracy of optical-based forest LAIe depending on forest structure characteristics. (2) The forest background in the forest stands with low canopy cover showed more apparent effects on LAIe estimation compared with the forest stands with a high canopy cover. (3) The combination of ALS and optical remotely sensed data could produce the best LAIe retrieval result effectively by removing the forest background information. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
A New Quantitative Approach to Tree Attributes Estimation Based on LiDAR Point Clouds
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(11), 1779; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12111779 - 01 Jun 2020
Abstract
Tree-level information can be estimated based on light detection and ranging (LiDAR) point clouds. We propose to develop a quantitative structural model based on terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) point clouds to automatically and accurately estimate tree attributes and to detect real trees for [...] Read more.
Tree-level information can be estimated based on light detection and ranging (LiDAR) point clouds. We propose to develop a quantitative structural model based on terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) point clouds to automatically and accurately estimate tree attributes and to detect real trees for the first time. This model is suitable for forest research where branches are involved in the calculation. First, the Adtree method was used to approximate the geometry of the tree stem and branches by fitting a series of cylinders. Trees were represented as a broad set of cylinders. Then, the end of the stem or all branches were closed. The tree model changed from a cylinder to a closed convex hull polyhedron, which was to reconstruct a 3D model of the tree. Finally, to extract effective tree attributes from the reconstructed 3D model, a convex hull polyhedron calculation method based on the tree model was defined. This calculation method can be used to extract wood (including tree stem and branches) volume, diameter at breast height (DBH) and tree height. To verify the accuracy of tree attributes extracted from the model, the tree models of 153 Chinese scholartrees from TLS data were reconstructed and the tree volume, DBH and tree height were extracted from the model. The experimental results show that the DBH and tree height extracted based on this model are in better consistency with the reference value based on field survey data. The bias, RMSE and R2 of DBH were 0.38 cm, 1.28 cm and 0.92, respectively. The bias, RMSE and R2 of tree height were −0.76 m, 1.21 m and 0.93, respectively. The tree volume extracted from the model is in better consistency with the reference value. The bias, root mean square error (RMSE) and determination coefficient (R2) of tree volume were −0.01236 m3, 0.03498 m3 and 0.96, respectively. This study provides a new model for nondestructive estimation of tree volume, above-ground biomass (AGB) or carbon stock based on LiDAR data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation of Canopy Gap Fraction from Terrestrial Laser Scanner Using an Angular Grid to Take Advantage of the Full Data Spatial Resolution
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(10), 1596; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12101596 - 17 May 2020
Abstract
This paper develops an algorithm to estimate vegetation canopy gap fraction (GF), taking advantage of the full Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) resolution. After calculating the TLS angular resolution, the algorithm identifies the missing laser hits (gaps) within an angular grid in the azimuthal [...] Read more.
This paper develops an algorithm to estimate vegetation canopy gap fraction (GF), taking advantage of the full Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) resolution. After calculating the TLS angular resolution, the algorithm identifies the missing laser hits (gaps) within an angular grid in the azimuthal and zenithal directions. The algorithm was first tested on angular data simulations with random (R), cluster (C) and random and cluster together (RC) gap pattern distributions. Noise introduced in the simulations as a percentage of the resolution accounted for the effect of TLS angular uncertainty. The algorithm performs accurately if angular noise is <6% of the angular resolution. To assess the impact of the change in projection, this study compared these GF estimates from angular grid simulations to their transformation into simulated hemispherical images (SHI). SHI with C patterns perform accurately, but R and RC patterns underestimate GF, especially for GF values below 0.6. The SHI performance to estimate GF was always far below the algorithm developed here with the angular grid simulations. When applied to actual TLS data acquired over individual Quercus ilex L. trees, the algorithm rendered a GF between 0.26 and 0.40. TLS had an angular noise <6%. Converting the angular grid into simulated HI (TLS-SHI) provided a better agreement with actual HI acquired in the same location as the TLS data, since they are in the same projection. The TLS-SHI underestimated GF by an average of 4% compared to HI. HI and TLS-SHI presented 14% and 17% lower values than the GF calculated from the angular grids, respectively. Nevertheless, the results from the simulations indicate that the algorithm based on the angular grid should be closer to the actual GF of the tree canopy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Estimating Stem Volume in Eucalyptus Plantations Using Airborne LiDAR: A Comparison of Area- and Individual Tree-Based Approaches
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(9), 1513; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12091513 - 09 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Forest plantations are globally important for the economy and are significant for carbon sequestration. Properly managing plantations requires accurate information about stand timber stocks. In this study, we used the area (ABA) and individual tree (ITD) based approaches for estimating stem volume in [...] Read more.
Forest plantations are globally important for the economy and are significant for carbon sequestration. Properly managing plantations requires accurate information about stand timber stocks. In this study, we used the area (ABA) and individual tree (ITD) based approaches for estimating stem volume in fast-growing Eucalyptus spp forest plantations. Herein, we propose a new method to improve individual tree detection (ITD) in dense canopy homogeneous forests and assess the effects of stand age, slope and scan angle on ITD accuracy. Field and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data were collected in Eucalyptus urophylla x Eucalyptus grandis even-aged forest stands located in the mountainous region of the Rio Doce Valley, southeastern Brazil. We tested five methods to estimate volume from LiDAR-derived metrics using ABA: Artificial Neural Network (ANN), Random Forest (RF), Support Vector Machine (SVM), and linear and Gompertz models. LiDAR-derived canopy metrics were selected using the Recursive Feature Elimination algorithm and Spearman’s correlation, for nonparametric and parametric methods, respectively. For the ITD, we tested three ITD methods: two local maxima filters and the watershed method. All methods were tested adding our proposed procedure of Tree Buffer Exclusion (TBE), resulting in 35 possibilities for treetop detection. Stem volume for this approach was estimated using the Schumacher and Hall model. Estimated volumes in both ABA and ITD approaches were compared to the field observed values using the F-test. Overall, the ABA with ANN was found to be better for stand volume estimation ( r y y ^ = 0.95 and RMSE = 14.4%). Although the ITD results showed similar precision ( r y y ^ = 0.94 and RMSE = 16.4%) to the ABA, the results underestimated stem volume in younger stands and in gently sloping terrain (<25%). Stem volume maps also differed between the approaches; ITD represented the stand variability better. In addition, we discuss the importance of LiDAR metrics as input variables for stem volume estimation methods and the possible issues related to the ABA and ITD performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Forest Inventory with Long Range and High-Speed Personal Laser Scanning (PLS) and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) Technology
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(9), 1509; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12091509 - 09 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The use of new and modern sensors in forest inventory has become increasingly efficient. Nevertheless, the majority of forest inventory data are still collected manually, as part of field surveys. The reason for this is the sometimes time-consuming and incomplete data acquisition with [...] Read more.
The use of new and modern sensors in forest inventory has become increasingly efficient. Nevertheless, the majority of forest inventory data are still collected manually, as part of field surveys. The reason for this is the sometimes time-consuming and incomplete data acquisition with static terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). The use of personal laser scanning (PLS) can reduce these disadvantages. In this study, we assess a new personal laser scanner and compare it with a TLS approach for the estimation of tree position and diameter in a wide range of forest types and structures. Traditionally collected forest inventory data are used as reference. A new density-based algorithm for position finding and diameter estimation is developed. In addition, several methods for diameter fitting are compared. For circular sample plots with a maximum radius of 20 m and lower diameter at breast height (dbh) threshold of 5 cm, tree mapping showed a detection of 96% for PLS and 78.5% for TLS. Using plot radii of 20 m, 15 m, and 10 m, as well as a lower dbh threshold of 10 cm, the respective detection rates for PLS were 98.76%, 98.95%, and 99.48%, while those for TLS were considerably lower (86.32%, 93.81%, and 98.35%, respectively), especially for larger sample plots. The root mean square error (RMSE) of the best dbh measurement was 2.32 cm (12.01%) for PLS and 2.55 cm (13.19%) for TLS. The highest precision of PLS and TLS, in terms of bias, were 0.21 cm (1.09%) and −0.74 cm (−3.83%), respectively. The data acquisition time for PLS took approximately 10.96 min per sample plot, 4.7 times faster than that for TLS. We conclude that the proposed PLS method is capable of efficient data capture and can detect the largest number of trees with a sufficient dbh accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Detection, Segmentation, and Model Fitting of Individual Tree Stems from Airborne Laser Scanning of Forests Using Deep Learning
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(9), 1469; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12091469 - 06 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Accurate measurements of the structural characteristics of trees such as height, diameter, sweep and taper are an important part of forest inventories in managed forests and commercial plantations. Both terrestrial and aerial LiDAR are currently employed to produce pointcloud data from which inventory [...] Read more.
Accurate measurements of the structural characteristics of trees such as height, diameter, sweep and taper are an important part of forest inventories in managed forests and commercial plantations. Both terrestrial and aerial LiDAR are currently employed to produce pointcloud data from which inventory metrics can be determined. Terrestrial/ground-based scanning typically provides pointclouds resolutions of many thousands of points per m 2 from which tree stems can be observed and inventory measurements made directly, whereas typical resolutions from aerial scanning (tens of points per m 2 ) require inventory metrics to be regressed from LiDAR variables using inventory reference data collected from the ground. Recent developments in miniaturised LiDAR sensors are enabling aerial capture of pointclouds from low-flying aircraft at high-resolutions (hundreds of points per m 2 ) from which tree stem information starts to become directly visible, enabling the possibility for plot-scale inventories that do not require access to the ground. In this paper, we develop new approaches to automated tree detection, segmentation and stem reconstruction using algorithms based on deep supervised machine learning which are designed for use with aerially acquired high-resolution LiDAR pointclouds. Our approach is able to isolate individual trees, determine tree stem points and further build a segmented model of the main tree stem that encompasses tree height, diameter, taper, and sweep. Through the use of deep learning models, our approach is able to adapt to variations in pointcloud densities and partial occlusions that are particularly prevalent when data is captured from the air. We present results of our algorithms using high-resolution LiDAR pointclouds captured from a helicopter over two Radiata pine forests in NSW, Australia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Individual Tree Crown Segmentation of a Larch Plantation Using Airborne Laser Scanning Data Based on Region Growing and Canopy Morphology Features
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(7), 1078; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12071078 - 27 Mar 2020
Abstract
The detection of individual trees in a larch plantation could improve the management efficiency and production prediction. This study introduced a two-stage individual tree crown (ITC) segmentation method for airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) point clouds, focusing on larch plantation forests with [...] Read more.
The detection of individual trees in a larch plantation could improve the management efficiency and production prediction. This study introduced a two-stage individual tree crown (ITC) segmentation method for airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) point clouds, focusing on larch plantation forests with different stem densities. The two-stage segmentation method consists of the region growing and morphology segmentation, which combines advantages of the region growing characteristics and the detailed morphology structures of tree crowns. The framework comprises five steps: (1) determination of the initial dominant segments using a region growing algorithm, (2) identification of segments to be redefined based on the 2D hull convex area of each segment, (3) establishment and selection of profiles based on the tree structures, (4) determination of the number of trees using the correlation coefficient of residuals between Gaussian fitting and the tree canopy shape described in each profile, and (5) k-means segmentation to obtain the point cloud of a single tree. The accuracy was evaluated in terms of correct matching, recall, precision, and F-score in eight plots with different stem densities. Results showed that the proposed method significantly increased ITC detections compared with that of using only the region growing algorithm, where the correct matching rate increased from 73.5% to 86.1%, and the recall value increased from 0.78 to 0.89. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
An Improved Convolution Neural Network-Based Model for Classifying Foliage and Woody Components from Terrestrial Laser Scanning Data
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(6), 1010; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12061010 - 21 Mar 2020
Abstract
Separating foliage and woody components can effectively improve the accuracy of simulating the forest eco-hydrological processes. It is still challenging to use deep learning models to classify canopy components from the point cloud data collected in forests by terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). In [...] Read more.
Separating foliage and woody components can effectively improve the accuracy of simulating the forest eco-hydrological processes. It is still challenging to use deep learning models to classify canopy components from the point cloud data collected in forests by terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). In this study, we developed a convolution neural network (CNN)-based model to separate foliage and woody components (FWCNN) by combing the geometrical and laser return intensity (LRI) information of local point sets in TLS datasets. Meanwhile, we corrected the LRI information and proposed a contribution score evaluation method to objectively determine hyper-parameters (learning rate, batch size, and validation split rate) in the FWCNN model. Our results show that: (1) Correcting the LRI information could improve the overall classification accuracy (OA) of foliage and woody points in tested broadleaf (from 95.05% to 96.20%) and coniferous (from 93.46% to 94.98%) TLS datasets (Kappa ≥ 0.86). (2) Optimizing hyper-parameters was essential to enhance the running efficiency of the FWCNN model, and the determined hyper-parameter set was suitable to classify all tested TLS data. (3) The FWCNN model has great potential to classify TLS data in mixed forests with OA > 84.26% (Kappa ≥ 0.67). This work provides a foundation for retrieving the structural features of woody materials within the forest canopy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Annular Neighboring Points Distribution Analysis: A Novel PLS Stem Point Cloud Preprocessing Algorithm for DBH Estimation
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(5), 808; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12050808 - 03 Mar 2020
Abstract
Personal laser scanning (PLS) has significant potential for estimating the in-situ diameter of breast height (DBH) with high efficiency and precision, which improves the understanding of forest structure and aids in building carbon cycle models in the big data era. PLS collects more [...] Read more.
Personal laser scanning (PLS) has significant potential for estimating the in-situ diameter of breast height (DBH) with high efficiency and precision, which improves the understanding of forest structure and aids in building carbon cycle models in the big data era. PLS collects more complete stem point cloud data compared with the present laser scanning technology. However, there is still no significant advantage of DBH estimation accuracy. Because the error caused by merging different point cloud fragments has not yet been eliminated, overlapping and inaccurate co-registered point cloud fragments are often inevitable, which are usually the leading error sources of PLS-based DBH estimation. In this study, a novel pre-processing algorithm named annular neighboring points distribution analysis (ANPDA) was developed to improve PLS-based DBH estimation accuracy. To reduce the impact of inaccurately co-registered point cloud fragments, ANPDA identified outliers through iterative removal of outermost points and analyzing the distribution of annular neighboring points. Six plots containing 247 trees under different forest conditions were selected to evaluate the ANPDA. Results showed that in the six plots, error reductions of 53.80–87.13% for bias, 38.82–57.30% for mean absolute error (MAE), and 27.17–56.02% for root mean squared error (RMSE) were achieved after applying ANPDA. These results confirmed that ANPDA was generally effective for improving PLS-based DBH estimation accuracy. It appeared that ANPDA could be conveniently fused with an automatic PLS-based DBH estimation process as a preprocessing algorithm. Furthermore, it has the potential to predict and warn operators of potential large errors during hierarchical semi-automatic DBH estimation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Role of Improved Ground Positioning and Forest Structural Complexity When Performing Forest Inventory Using Airborne Laser Scanning
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(3), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12030413 - 28 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The level of spatial co-registration between airborne laser scanning (ALS) and ground data can determine the goodness of the statistical inference used in forest inventories. The importance of positioning methods in the field can increase, depending on the structural complexity of forests. An [...] Read more.
The level of spatial co-registration between airborne laser scanning (ALS) and ground data can determine the goodness of the statistical inference used in forest inventories. The importance of positioning methods in the field can increase, depending on the structural complexity of forests. An area-based approach was followed to conduct forest inventory over seven National Forest Inventory (NFI) forest strata in Spain. The benefit of improving the co-registration goodness was assessed through model transferability using low- and high-accuracy positioning methods. Through the inoptimality losses approach, we evaluated the value of good co-registered data, while assessing the influence of forest structural complexity. When using good co-registered data in the 4th NFI, the mean tree height (HTmean), stand basal area (G) and growing stock volume (V) models were 2.6%, 10.6% and 14.7% (in terms of root mean squared error, RMSE %), lower than when using the coordinates from the 3rd NFI. Transferring models built under poor co-registration conditions using more precise data improved the models, on average, 0.3%, 6.0% and 8.8%, while the worsening effect of using low-accuracy data with models built in optimal conditions reached 4.0%, 16.1% and 16.2%. The value of enhanced data co-registration varied between forests. The usability of current NFI data under modern forest inventory approaches can be restricted when combining with ALS data. As this research showed, investing in improving co-registration goodness over a set of samples in NFI projects enhanced model performance, depending on the type of forest and on the assessed forest attributes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparing Johnson’s SB and Weibull Functions to Model the Diameter Distribution of Forest Plantations through ALS Data
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(23), 2792; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11232792 - 26 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The analysis of the diameter distribution is important for forest management since the knowledge of tree density and growing stock by diameter classes is essential to define management plans and to support operational decisions. The modeling of diameter distributions from airborne laser scanning [...] Read more.
The analysis of the diameter distribution is important for forest management since the knowledge of tree density and growing stock by diameter classes is essential to define management plans and to support operational decisions. The modeling of diameter distributions from airborne laser scanning (ALS) data has been performed through the two-parameter Weibull probability density function (PDF), but the more flexible PDF Johnson’s SB has never been tested for this purpose until now. This study evaluated the performance of the Johnson’s SB to predict the diameter distributions based on ALS data from two of the most common forest plantations in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula (Eucalyptus globulus Labill. and Pinus radiata D. Don). The Weibull PDF was taken as a benchmark for the diameter distributions prediction and both PDFs were fitted with ALS data. The results show that the SB presented a comparable performance to the Weibull for both forest types. The SB presented a slightly better performance for the E. globulus, while the Weibull PDF had a small advantage when applied to the P. radiata data. The Johnson’s SB PDF is more flexible but also more sensitive to possible errors arising from the higher number of stand variables needed for the estimation of the PDF parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Mobile Laser Scanning for Estimating Tree Stem Diameter Using Segmentation and Tree Spine Calibration
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(23), 2781; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11232781 - 26 Nov 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Mobile laser scanning (MLS) could make forest inventories more efficient, by using algorithms that automatically derive tree stem center positions and stem diameters. In this work we present a novel method for calibration of the position for laser returns based on tree spines [...] Read more.
Mobile laser scanning (MLS) could make forest inventories more efficient, by using algorithms that automatically derive tree stem center positions and stem diameters. In this work we present a novel method for calibration of the position for laser returns based on tree spines derived from laser data. A first calibration of positions was made for sequential laser scans and further calibrations of laser returns were possible after segmentation, in which laser returns were associated to individual tree stems. The segmentation made it possible to model tree stem spines (i.e., center line of tree stems). Assumptions of coherent tree spine positions were used for correcting laser return positions on the tree stems, thereby improving estimation of stem profiles (i.e., stem diameters at different heights from the ground level). The method was validated on six 20-m radius field plots. Stem diameters were estimated with a Root-Mean-Square-Error (RMSE) of 1 cm for safely linked trees (maximum link distance of 0.5 m) and with a restriction of a minimum amount of data from height intervals for supporting circle estimates. The accuracy was high for plot level estimates of basal area-weighted mean stem diameter (relative RMSE 3.4%) and basal area (relative RMSE 8.5%) because of little influence of small trees (i.e., aggregation of individual trees). The spine calibration made it possible to derive 3D stem profiles also from 3D laser data calculated from sensor positions with large errors because of disturbed below canopy signals from global navigation satellite systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Using Tree Detection Based on Airborne Laser Scanning to Improve Forest Inventory Considering Edge Effects and the Co-Registration Factor
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(22), 2675; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11222675 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The estimation of forest biophysical attributes improves when airborne laser scanning (ALS) is integrated. Individual tree detection methods (ITD) and traditional area-based approaches (ABA) are the two main alternatives in ALS-based forest inventory. This study evaluated the performance of the enhanced area-based approach [...] Read more.
The estimation of forest biophysical attributes improves when airborne laser scanning (ALS) is integrated. Individual tree detection methods (ITD) and traditional area-based approaches (ABA) are the two main alternatives in ALS-based forest inventory. This study evaluated the performance of the enhanced area-based approach (EABA), an edge-correction method based on ALS data that combines ITD and ABA, at improving the estimation of forest biophysical attributes, while testing its efficiency when considering co-registration errors that bias remotely sensed predictor variables. The study was developed based on a stone pine forest (Pinus pinea L.) in Central Spain, in which tree spacing and scanning conditions were optimal for the ITD approach. Regression modeling was used to select the optimal predictor variables to estimate forest biophysical attributes. The accuracy of the models improved when using EABA, despite the low-density of the ALS data. The relative mean improvement of EABA in terms of root mean squared error was 15.2%, 17.3%, and 7.2% for growing stock volume, stand basal area, and dominant height, respectively. The impact of co-registration errors in the models was clear in the ABA, while the effect was minor and mitigated under EABA. The implementation of EABA can highly contribute to improve modern forest inventory applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Estimating 3D Chlorophyll Content Distribution of Trees Using an Image Fusion Method Between 2D Camera and 3D Portable Scanning Lidar
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(18), 2134; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11182134 - 13 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
An image fusion method has been proposed for plant images taken using a two-dimensional (2D) camera and three-dimensional (3D) portable lidar for obtaining a 3D distribution of physiological and biochemical plant properties. In this method, a 2D multispectral camera with five bands (475–840 [...] Read more.
An image fusion method has been proposed for plant images taken using a two-dimensional (2D) camera and three-dimensional (3D) portable lidar for obtaining a 3D distribution of physiological and biochemical plant properties. In this method, a 2D multispectral camera with five bands (475–840 nm) and a 3D high-resolution portable scanning lidar were applied to three sets of sample trees. After producing vegetation index (VI) images from multispectral images, 3D point cloud lidar data were projected onto the 2D plane based on perspective projection, keeping the depth information of each of the lidar points. The VI images were 2D registered to the lidar projected image based on the projective transformation and VI 3D point cloud images were reconstructed based on the depth information. Based on the relationship between the VI values and chlorophyll contents taken by a soil and plant analysis development (SPAD)-502 plus chlorophyll meter, 3D distribution images of the chlorophyll contents were produced. Similarly, a thermal 3D image for a sample was also produced. The resultant chlorophyll distribution images offered vertical and horizontal distributions, and those for each orientation for each sample, showing the spatial variability of the distribution and the difference between the samples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Accounting for Wood, Foliage Properties, and Laser Effective Footprint in Estimations of Leaf Area Density from Multiview-LiDAR Data
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(13), 1580; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11131580 - 03 Jul 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The spatial distribution of Leaf Area Density (LAD) in a tree canopy has fundamental functions in ecosystems. It can be measured through a variety of methods, including voxel-based methods applied to LiDAR point clouds. A theoretical study recently compared the numerical errors of [...] Read more.
The spatial distribution of Leaf Area Density (LAD) in a tree canopy has fundamental functions in ecosystems. It can be measured through a variety of methods, including voxel-based methods applied to LiDAR point clouds. A theoretical study recently compared the numerical errors of these methods and showed that the bias-corrected Maximum Likelihood Estimator was the most efficient. However, it ignored (i) wood volumes, (ii) vegetation sub-grid clumping, (iii) the instrument effective footprint, and (iv) was limited to a single viewpoint. In practice, retrieving LAD is not straightforward, because vegetation is not randomly distributed in sub-grids, beams are divergent, and forestry plots are sampled from more than one viewpoint to mitigate occlusion. In the present article, we extend the previous formulation to (i) account for both wood volumes and hits, (ii) rigorously include correction terms for vegetation and instrument characteristics, and (iii) integrate multiview data. Two numerical experiments showed that the new approach entailed reduction of bias and errors, especially in the presence of wood volumes or when multiview data are available for poorly-explored volumes. In addition to its conciseness, completeness, and efficiency, this new formulation can be applied to multiview TLS—and also potentially to UAV LiDAR scanning—to reduce errors in LAD estimation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessLetter
Towards Tree Green Crown Volume: A Methodological Approach Using Terrestrial Laser Scanning
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(11), 1841; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12111841 - 06 Jun 2020
Abstract
Crown volume is a tree attribute relevant in a number of contexts, including photosynthesis and matter production, storm resistance, shadowing of lower layers, habitat for various taxa. While commonly the total crown volume is being determined, for example by wrapping a convex hull [...] Read more.
Crown volume is a tree attribute relevant in a number of contexts, including photosynthesis and matter production, storm resistance, shadowing of lower layers, habitat for various taxa. While commonly the total crown volume is being determined, for example by wrapping a convex hull around the crown, we present here a methodological approach towards assessing the tree green crown volume (TGCVol), the crown volume with a high density of foliage, which we derive by terrestrial laser scanning in a case study of solitary urban trees. Using the RGB information, we removed the hits on stem and branches within the tree crown and used the remaining leaf hits to determine TGCVol from k-means clustering and convex hulls for the resulting green 3D clusters. We derived a tree green crown volume index (TGCVI) relating the green crown volume to the total crown volume. This TGCVI is a measure of how much a crown is “filled with green” and scale-dependent (a function of specifications of the k-means clustering). Our study is a step towards a standardized assessment of tree green crown volume. We do also address a number of remaining methodological challenges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Leaf Segmentation Based on k-Means Algorithm to Obtain Leaf Angle Distribution Using Terrestrial LiDAR
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(21), 2536; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11212536 - 29 Oct 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
It is critical to take the variability of leaf angle distribution into account in a remote sensing analysis of a canopy system. Due to the physical limitations of field measurements, it is difficult to obtain leaf angles quickly and accurately, especially with a [...] Read more.
It is critical to take the variability of leaf angle distribution into account in a remote sensing analysis of a canopy system. Due to the physical limitations of field measurements, it is difficult to obtain leaf angles quickly and accurately, especially with a complicated canopy structure. An application of terrestrial LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a common solution for the purposes of leaf angle estimation, and it allows for the measurement and reconstruction of 3D canopy models with an arbitrary volume of leaves. However, in most cases, the leaf angle is estimated incorrectly due to inaccurate leaf segmentation. Therefore, the objective of this study was an emphasis on the development of efficient segmentation algorithms for accurate leaf angle estimation. Our study demonstrates a leaf segmentation approach based on a k-means algorithm coupled with an octree structure and the subsequent application of plane-fitting to estimate the leaf angle. Furthermore, the accuracy of the segmentation and leaf angle estimation was verified. The results showed average segmentation accuracies of 95% and 90% and absolute angular errors of 3° and 6° in the leaves sampled from mochi and Japanese camellia trees, respectively. It is our conclusion that our method of leaf angle estimation has high potential and is expected to make a significant contribution to future plant and forest research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Point Clouds in Forest Remote Sensing)
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