Special Issue "Mapping Tree Species Diversity"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Markus Immitzer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Geomatics, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Peter Jordan Strasse 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria
Interests: remote sensing based on optical data with high to very high spatial and spectral resolution for forest mapping; vegetation stress monitoring; modeling of biophysical parameters; and land cover classification—focus on temperate forests
Prof. Dr. Onisimo Mutanga
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, 3209, South Africa
Interests: hyperspectral and multispectral remote sensing; vegetation pattern analysis and monitoring (quality and quantity, species distribution); spatial modeling; climate change impacts
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current UN report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services depicts an alarming and shocking picture of the Earth. With accelerating rates of species extinction, our environment is declining globally at unprecedented rates. Transformative economic and societal change is necessary, and will involve far-reaching alterations in thoughts and actions at both local and global levels. To cope with the pace of global change, a rapid increase in knowledge about species numbers, compositions, and conditions is required, as well as species interactions and environments. Remote sensing provides the only feasible way to cost-effectively and repeatedly measure and monitor these changes. Today’s satellite, aircraft, and UAV instruments provide a wide range of observational capability in terms of spatial, temporal, and spectral resolutions. Machine learning approaches and computational capacity are improving quickly, offering huge potential for improved data analysis, including “big data” and the development of powerful monitoring systems.

This Special Issue will include studies focused on the remote observation of spatial patterns and temporal changes in the biodiversity of forests, at local to global scales.  We invite authors to submit recent research that specifically addresses the detection or monitoring of

  • biodiversity of forests in the context of classical species diversity;
  • the mapping of changes in diversity;
  • the floristic composition of forests;
  • invasive species; and
  • the functional diversity of forests.

Review articles are also welcome.

Dr. Markus Immitzer
Prof. Dr. Onisimo Mutanga
Prof. Dr. Clement Atzberger
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 2400 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

  • tree species mapping
  • biological diversity
  • multispectral optical remote sensing
  • hyperspectral optical remote sensing
  • synthetic aperture radar
  • multi-temporal remote sensing
  • satellites, aircraft, UAVs
  • sensor fusion

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Deep Learning and Phenology Enhance Large-Scale Tree Species Classification in Aerial Imagery during a Biosecurity Response
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(9), 1789; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091789 - 04 May 2021
Viewed by 313
Abstract
The ability of deep convolutional neural networks (deep learning) to learn complex visual characteristics offers a new method to classify tree species using lower-cost data such as regional aerial RGB imagery. In this study, we use 10 cm resolution imagery and 4600 trees [...] Read more.
The ability of deep convolutional neural networks (deep learning) to learn complex visual characteristics offers a new method to classify tree species using lower-cost data such as regional aerial RGB imagery. In this study, we use 10 cm resolution imagery and 4600 trees to develop a deep learning model to identify Metrosideros excelsa (pōhutukawa)—a culturally important New Zealand tree that displays distinctive red flowers during summer and is under threat from the invasive pathogen Austropuccinia psidii (myrtle rust). Our objectives were to compare the accuracy of deep learning models that could learn the distinctive visual characteristics of the canopies with tree-based models (XGBoost) that used spectral and textural metrics. We tested whether the phenology of pōhutukawa could be used to enhance classification by using multitemporal aerial imagery that showed the same trees with and without widespread flowering. The XGBoost model achieved an accuracy of 86.7% on the dataset with strong phenology (flowering). Without phenology, the accuracy fell to 79.4% and the model relied on the blueish hue and texture of the canopies. The deep learning model achieved 97.4% accuracy with 96.5% sensitivity and 98.3% specificity when leveraging phenology—even though the intensity of flowering varied substantially. Without strong phenology, the accuracy of the deep learning model remained high at 92.7% with sensitivity of 91.2% and specificity of 94.3% despite significant variation in the appearance of non-flowering pōhutukawa. Pooling time-series imagery did not enhance either approach. The accuracy of XGBoost and deep learning models were, respectively, 83.2% and 95.2%, which were of intermediate precision between the separate models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Multi-Sensors Spectral and Spatial Resolutions for Tree Species Diversity Prediction
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(5), 1033; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13051033 - 09 Mar 2021
Viewed by 769
Abstract
Forests contribute significantly to terrestrial biodiversity conservation. Monitoring of tree species diversity is vital due to climate change factors. Remote sensing imagery is a means of data collection for predicting diversity of tree species. Since various sensors have different spectral and spatial resolutions, [...] Read more.
Forests contribute significantly to terrestrial biodiversity conservation. Monitoring of tree species diversity is vital due to climate change factors. Remote sensing imagery is a means of data collection for predicting diversity of tree species. Since various sensors have different spectral and spatial resolutions, it is worth comparing them to ascertain which could influence the accuracy of prediction of tree species diversity. Hence, this study evaluated the influence of the spectral and spatial resolutions of PlanetScope, RapidEye, Sentinel 2 and Landsat 8 images in diversity prediction based on the Shannon diversity index (H′), Simpson diversity Index (D1) and Species richness (S). The Random Forest regression was applied for the prediction using the spectral bands of the sensors as variables. The Sentinel 2 was the best image, producing the highest coefficient of determination (R2) under both the Shannon Index (R2 = 0.926) and the Species richness (R2 = 0.923). Both the Sentinel and RapidEye produced comparable higher accuracy for the Simpson Index (R2 = 0.917 and R2 = 0.915, respectively). The PlanetScope was the second-accurate for the Species richness (R2 = 0.90), whiles the Landsat 8 was the least accurate for the three diversity indices. The outcomes of this study suggest that both the spectral and spatial resolutions influence prediction accuracies of satellite imagery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
A New Individual Tree Species Recognition Method Based on a Convolutional Neural Network and High-Spatial Resolution Remote Sensing Imagery
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(3), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13030479 - 29 Jan 2021
Viewed by 557
Abstract
Tree species surveys are crucial to forest resource management and can provide references for forest protection policy making. The traditional tree species survey in the field is labor-intensive and time-consuming, supporting the practical significance of remote sensing. The availability of high-resolution satellite remote [...] Read more.
Tree species surveys are crucial to forest resource management and can provide references for forest protection policy making. The traditional tree species survey in the field is labor-intensive and time-consuming, supporting the practical significance of remote sensing. The availability of high-resolution satellite remote sensing data enable individual tree species (ITS) recognition at low cost. In this study, the potential of the combination of such images and a convolutional neural network (CNN) to recognize ITS was explored. Firstly, individual tree crowns were delineated from a high-spatial resolution WorldView-3 (WV3) image and manually labeled as different tree species. Next, a dataset of the image subsets of the labeled individual tree crowns was built, and several CNN models were trained based on the dataset for ITS recognition. The models were then applied to the WV3 image. The results show that the distribution maps of six ITS offered an overall accuracy of 82.7% and a kappa coefficient of 0.79 based on the modified GoogLeNet, which used the multi-scale convolution kernel to extract features of the tree crown samples and was modified for small-scale samples. The ITS recognition method proposed in this study, with multi-scale individual tree crown delineation, avoids artificial tree crown delineation. Compared with the random forest (RF) and support vector machine (SVM) approaches, this method can automatically extract features and outperform RF and SVM in the classification of six tree species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Tree Species Classification of Forest Stands Using Multisource Remote Sensing Data
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(1), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13010144 - 04 Jan 2021
Viewed by 879
Abstract
The spatial distribution of forest stands is one of the fundamental properties of forests. Timely and accurately obtained stand distribution can help people better understand, manage, and utilize forests. The development of remote sensing technology has made it possible to map the distribution [...] Read more.
The spatial distribution of forest stands is one of the fundamental properties of forests. Timely and accurately obtained stand distribution can help people better understand, manage, and utilize forests. The development of remote sensing technology has made it possible to map the distribution of tree species in a timely and accurate manner. At present, a large amount of remote sensing data have been accumulated, including high-spatial-resolution images, time-series images, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data, etc. However, these data have not been fully utilized. To accurately identify the tree species of forest stands, various and complementary data need to be synthesized for classification. A curve matching based method called the fusion of spectral image and point data (FSP) algorithm was developed to fuse high-spatial-resolution images, time-series images, and LiDAR data for forest stand classification. In this method, the multispectral Sentinel-2 image and high-spatial-resolution aerial images were first fused. Then, the fused images were segmented to derive forest stands, which are the basic unit for classification. To extract features from forest stands, the gray histogram of each band was extracted from the aerial images. The average reflectance in each stand was calculated and stacked for the time-series images. The profile curve of forest structure was generated from the LiDAR data. Finally, the features of forest stands were compared with training samples using curve matching methods to derive the tree species. The developed method was tested in a forest farm to classify 11 tree species. The average accuracy of the FSP method for ten performances was between 0.900 and 0.913, and the maximum accuracy was 0.945. The experiments demonstrate that the FSP method is more accurate and stable than traditional machine learning classification methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
CNN-Based Tree Species Classification Using High Resolution RGB Image Data from Automated UAV Observations
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(23), 3892; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12233892 - 27 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 828
Abstract
Data on the distribution of tree species are often requested by forest managers, inventory agencies, foresters as well as private and municipal forest owners. However, the automated detection of tree species based on passive remote sensing data from aerial surveys is still not [...] Read more.
Data on the distribution of tree species are often requested by forest managers, inventory agencies, foresters as well as private and municipal forest owners. However, the automated detection of tree species based on passive remote sensing data from aerial surveys is still not sufficiently developed to achieve reliable results independent of the phenological stage, time of day, season, tree vitality and prevailing atmospheric conditions. Here, we introduce a novel tree species classification approach based on high resolution RGB image data gathered during automated UAV flights that overcomes these insufficiencies. For the classification task, a computationally lightweight convolutional neural network (CNN) was designed. We show that with the chosen CNN model architecture, average classification accuracies of 92% can be reached independently of the illumination conditions and the phenological stages of four different tree species. We also show that a minimal ground sampling density of 1.6 cm/px is needed for the classification model to be able to make use of the spatial-structural information in the data. Finally, to demonstrate the applicability of the presented approach to derive spatially explicit tree species information, a gridded product is generated that yields an average classification accuracy of 88%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Object-Based Approach Using Very High Spatial Resolution 16-Band WorldView-3 and LiDAR Data for Tree Species Classification in a Broadleaf Forest in Quebec, Canada
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(18), 3092; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12183092 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1343
Abstract
Species identification in Quebec, Canada, is usually performed with photo-interpretation at the stand level, and often results in a lack of precision which affects forest management. Very high spatial resolution imagery, such as WorldView-3 and Light Detection and Ranging have the potential to [...] Read more.
Species identification in Quebec, Canada, is usually performed with photo-interpretation at the stand level, and often results in a lack of precision which affects forest management. Very high spatial resolution imagery, such as WorldView-3 and Light Detection and Ranging have the potential to overcome this issue. The main objective of this study is to map 11 tree species at the tree level using an object-based approach. For modeling, 240 variables were derived from WorldView-3 with pixel-based and arithmetic feature calculation techniques. A global approach (11 species) was compared to a hierarchical approach at two levels: (1) tree type (broadleaf/conifer) and (2) individual broadleaf (five) and conifer (six) species. Five different model techniques were compared: support vector machine, classification and regression tree, random forest (RF), k-nearest neighbors, and linear discriminant analysis. Each model was assessed using 16-band or first 8-band derived variables, with the results indicating higher precision for the RF technique. Higher accuracies were found using 16-band instead of 8-band derived variables for the global approach (overall accuracy (OA): 75% vs. 71%, Kappa index of agreement (KIA): 0.72 vs. 0.67) and tree type level (OA: 99% vs. 97%, KIA: 0.97 vs. 0.95). For broadleaf individual species, higher accuracy was found using first 8-band derived variables (OA: 70% vs. 68%, KIA: 0.63 vs. 0.60). No distinction was found for individual conifer species (OA: 94%, KIA: 0.93). This paper demonstrates that a hierarchical classification approach gives better results for conifer species and that using an 8-band WorldView-3 instead of a 16-band is sufficient. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatio-Temporal Classification Framework for Mapping Woody Vegetation from Multi-Temporal Sentinel-2 Imagery
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(17), 2845; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12172845 - 02 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1552
Abstract
The inventory of woody vegetation is of great importance for good forest management. Advancements of remote sensing techniques have provided excellent tools for such purposes, reducing the required amount of time and labor, yet with high accuracy and the information richness. Sentinel-2 is [...] Read more.
The inventory of woody vegetation is of great importance for good forest management. Advancements of remote sensing techniques have provided excellent tools for such purposes, reducing the required amount of time and labor, yet with high accuracy and the information richness. Sentinel-2 is one of the relatively new satellite missions, whose 13 spectral bands and short revisit time proved to be very useful when it comes to forest monitoring. In this study, the novel spatio-temporal classification framework for mapping woody vegetation from Sentinel-2 multitemporal data has been proposed. The used framework is based on the probability random forest classification, where temporal information is explicitly defined in the model. Because of this, several predictions are made for each pixel of the study area, which allow for specific spatio-temporal aggregation to be performed. The proposed methodology has been successfully applied for mapping eight potential forest and shrubby vegetation types over the study area of Serbia. Several spatio-temporal aggregation approaches have been tested, divided into two main groups: pixel-based and neighborhood-based. The validation metrics show that determining the most common vegetation type classes in the neighborhood of 5 × 5 pixels provides the best results. The overall accuracy and kappa coefficient obtained from five-fold cross validation of the results are 82.97% and 0.75, respectively. The corresponding producer’s accuracies range from 36.74% to 97.99% and user’s accuracies range from 46.31% to 98.43%. The proposed methodology proved to be applicable for mapping woody vegetation in Serbia and shows a potential to be implemented in other areas as well. Further testing is necessary to confirm such assumptions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Inferring Species Diversity and Variability over Climatic Gradient with Spectral Diversity Metrics
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(13), 2130; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12132130 - 02 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 849
Abstract
Filling in the void between forest ecology and remote sensing through monitoring biodiversity variables is of great interest. In this study, we utilized imaging spectroscopy data from the ISRO–NASA Airborne Visible InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer—Next Generation (AVIRIS-NG) India campaign to investigate how the measurements [...] Read more.
Filling in the void between forest ecology and remote sensing through monitoring biodiversity variables is of great interest. In this study, we utilized imaging spectroscopy data from the ISRO–NASA Airborne Visible InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer—Next Generation (AVIRIS-NG) India campaign to investigate how the measurements of biodiversity attributes of forests over wide areas can be augmented by synchronous field- and spectral-metrics. Three sites, Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), Vansda National Park (VNP), and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), spread over a climatic gradient (rainfall and temperature), were selected for this study. Abundant species maps of three sites were produced using a support vector machine (SVM) classifier with a 76–80% overall accuracy. These maps are a valuable input for forest resource management. Convex hull volume (CHV) is computed from the first three principal components of AVIRIS-NG spectra and used as a spectral diversity metric. It was observed that CHV increased with species numbers showing a positive correlation between species and spectral diversity. Additionally, it was observed that the abundant species show higher spectral diversity over species with lesser spread, provisionally revealing their functional diversity. This could be one of the many reasons for their expansive reach through adaptation to local conditions. Higher rainfall at MTR was shown to have a positive impact on species and spectral diversity as compared to SWS and VNP. Redundancy analysis explained 13–24% of the variance in abundant species distribution because of climatic gradient. Trends in spectral CHVs observed across the three sites of this study indicate that species assemblages may have strong local controls, and the patterns of co-occurrence are largely aligned along climatic gradient. Observed changes in species distribution and diversity metrics over climatic gradient can help in assessing these forests’ responses to the projected dynamics of rainfall and temperature in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Topographic Correction on Forest Tree Species Classification Accuracy
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(5), 787; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12050787 - 01 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1155
Abstract
Topographic correction can reduce the influences of topographic factors and improve the accuracy of forest tree species classification when using remote-sensing data to investigate forest resources. In this study, the Mount Taishan forest farm is the research area. Based on Landsat 8 OLI [...] Read more.
Topographic correction can reduce the influences of topographic factors and improve the accuracy of forest tree species classification when using remote-sensing data to investigate forest resources. In this study, the Mount Taishan forest farm is the research area. Based on Landsat 8 OLI data and field survey subcompartment data, four topographic correction models (cosine model, C model, solar-canopy-sensor (SCS)+C model and empirical rotation model) were used on the Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform to carry out algorithmic data correction. Then, the tree species in the study area were classified by the random forest method. Combined with the tree species classification process, the topographic correction effects were analyzed, and the effects, advantages and disadvantages of each correction model were evaluated. The results showed that the SCS+C model and empirical rotation model were the best models in terms of visual effect, reducing the band standard deviation and adjusting the reflectance distribution. When we used the SCS+C model to correct the remote-sensing image, the total accuracy increased by 4% when using the full-coverage training areas to classify tree species and by nearly 13% when using the shadowless training area. In the illumination condition interval of 0.4–0.6, the inconsistency rate decreased significantly; however, the inconsistency rate increased with increasing illumination condition values. Topographic correction can enhance reflectance information in shaded areas and can significantly improve the image quality. Topographic correction can be used as a pretreatment method for forest species classification when the study area’s dominant tree species are in a low light intensity area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Large-Scale Mapping of Tree Species and Dead Trees in Šumava National Park and Bavarian Forest National Park Using Lidar and Multispectral Imagery
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(4), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12040661 - 17 Feb 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1009
Abstract
Knowledge of forest structures—and of dead wood in particular—is fundamental to understanding, managing, and preserving the biodiversity of our forests. Lidar is a valuable technology for the area-wide mapping of trees in 3D because of its capability to penetrate vegetation. In essence, this [...] Read more.
Knowledge of forest structures—and of dead wood in particular—is fundamental to understanding, managing, and preserving the biodiversity of our forests. Lidar is a valuable technology for the area-wide mapping of trees in 3D because of its capability to penetrate vegetation. In essence, this technique enables the detection of single trees and their properties in all forest layers. This paper highlights a successful mapping of tree species—subdivided into conifers and broadleaf trees—and standing dead wood in a large forest 924 km2 in size. As a novelty, we calibrate the critical stopping criterion of the tree segmentation based on a normalized cut with regard to coniferous and broadleaf trees. The experiments were conducted in Šumava National Park and Bavarian Forest National Park. For both parks, lidar data were acquired at a point density of 55 points/m2. Aerial multispectral imagery was captured for Šumava National Park at a ground sample distance (GSD) of 17 cm and for Bavarian Forest National Park at 9.5 cm GSD. Classification of the two tree groups and standing dead wood—located in areas of pest infestation—is based on a diverse set of features (geometric, intensity-based, 3D shape contexts, multispectral-based) and well-known classifiers (Random forest and logistic regression). We show that the effect of under- and oversegmentation can be reduced by the modified normalized cut segmentation, thereby improving the precision by 13%. Conifers, broadleaf trees, and standing dead trees are classified with overall accuracies better than 90%. All in all, this experiment demonstrates the feasibility of large-scale and high-accuracy mapping of single conifers, broadleaf trees, and standing dead trees using lidar and aerial imagery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Hyperspectral Multitemporal Information to Improve Tree Species Identification in the Highly Diverse Atlantic Forest
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(2), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12020244 - 10 Jan 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1470
Abstract
The monitoring of forest resources is crucial for their sustainable management, and tree species identification is one of the fundamental tasks in this process. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and miniaturized lightweight sensors can rapidly provide accurate monitoring information. The objective of this study [...] Read more.
The monitoring of forest resources is crucial for their sustainable management, and tree species identification is one of the fundamental tasks in this process. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and miniaturized lightweight sensors can rapidly provide accurate monitoring information. The objective of this study was to investigate the use of multitemporal, UAV-based hyperspectral imagery for tree species identification in the highly diverse Brazilian Atlantic forest. Datasets were captured over three years to identify eight different tree species. The study area comprised initial to medium successional stages of the Brazilian Atlantic forest. Images were acquired with a spatial resolution of 10 cm, and radiometric adjustment processing was performed to reduce the variations caused by different factors, such as the geometry of acquisition. The random forest classification method was applied in a region-based classification approach with leave-one-out cross-validation, followed by computing the area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUCROC) curve. When using each dataset alone, the influence of different weather behaviors on tree species identification was evident. When combining all datasets and minimizing illumination differences over each tree crown, the identification of three tree species was improved. These results show that UAV-based, hyperspectral, multitemporal remote sensing imagery is a promising tool for tree species identification in tropical forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Optimal Input Features for Tree Species Classification in Central Europe Based on Multi-Temporal Sentinel-2 Data
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(22), 2599; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11222599 - 06 Nov 2019
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 2080
Abstract
Detailed knowledge about tree species composition is of great importance for forest management. The two identical European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-2 (S2) satellites provide data with unprecedented spectral, spatial and temporal resolution. Here, we investigated the potential benefits of using high temporal resolution [...] Read more.
Detailed knowledge about tree species composition is of great importance for forest management. The two identical European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-2 (S2) satellites provide data with unprecedented spectral, spatial and temporal resolution. Here, we investigated the potential benefits of using high temporal resolution data for classification of five coniferous and seven broadleaved tree species in a diverse Central European Forest. To run the classification, 18 cloud-free S2 acquisitions were analyzed in a two-step approach. The available scenes were first used to stratify the study area into six broad land-cover classes. Subsequently, additional classification models were created separately for the coniferous and the broadleaved forest strata. To permit a deeper analytical insight in the benefits of multi-temporal datasets for species identification, classification models were developed taking into account all 262,143 possible permutations of the 18 S2 scenes. Each model was fine-tuned using a stepwise recursive feature reduction. The additional use of vegetation indices improved the model performances by around 5 percentage points. Individual mono-temporal tree species accuracies range from 48.1% (January 2017) to 78.6% (June 2017). Compared to the best mono-temporal results, the multi-temporal analysis approach improves the out-of-bag overall accuracy from 72.9% to 85.7% for the broadleaved and from 83.8% to 95.3% for the coniferous tree species, respectively. Remarkably, a combination of six–seven scenes achieves a model quality equally high as the model based on all data; images from April until August proved most important. The classes European Beech and European Larch attain the highest user’s accuracies of 96.3% and 95.9%, respectively. The most important spectral variables to distinguish between tree species are located in the Red (coniferous) and short wave infrared (SWIR) bands (broadleaved), respectively. Overall, the study highlights the high potential of multi-temporal S2 data for species-level classifications in Central European forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Statistical Stability and Spatial Instability in Mapping Forest Tree Species by Comparing 9 Years of Satellite Image Time Series
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(21), 2512; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11212512 - 26 Oct 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1775
Abstract
Mapping forest composition using multiseasonal optical time series remains a challenge. Highly contrasted results are reported from one study to another suggesting that drivers of classification errors are still under-explored. We evaluated the performances of single-year Formosat-2 time series to discriminate tree species [...] Read more.
Mapping forest composition using multiseasonal optical time series remains a challenge. Highly contrasted results are reported from one study to another suggesting that drivers of classification errors are still under-explored. We evaluated the performances of single-year Formosat-2 time series to discriminate tree species in temperate forests in France and investigated how predictions vary statistically and spatially across multiple years. Our objective was to better estimate the impact of spatial autocorrelation in the validation data on measurement accuracy and to understand which drivers in the time series are responsible for classification errors. The experiments were based on 10 Formosat-2 image time series irregularly acquired during the seasonal vegetation cycle from 2006 to 2014. Due to lot of clouds in the year 2006, an alternative 2006 time series using only cloud-free images has been added. Thirteen tree species were classified in each single-year dataset based on the Support Vector Machine (SVM) algorithm. The performances were assessed using a spatial leave-one-out cross validation (SLOO-CV) strategy, thereby guaranteeing full independence of the validation samples, and compared with standard non-spatial leave-one-out cross-validation (LOO-CV). The results show relatively close statistical performances from one year to the next despite the differences between the annual time series. Good agreements between years were observed in monospecific tree plantations of broadleaf species versus high disparity in other forests composed of different species. A strong positive bias in the accuracy assessment (up to 0.4 of Overall Accuracy (OA)) was also found when spatial dependence in the validation data was not removed. Using the SLOO-CV approach, the average OA values per year ranged from 0.48 for 2006 to 0.60 for 2013, which satisfactorily represents the spatial instability of species prediction between years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
A Review of Tree Species Classification Based on Airborne LiDAR Data and Applied Classifiers
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(3), 353; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13030353 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 701
Abstract
Remote sensing techniques, developed over the past four decades, have enabled large-scale forest inventory. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), as an active remote sensing technology, allows for the acquisition of three-dimensional point clouds of scanned areas, as well as a range of features [...] Read more.
Remote sensing techniques, developed over the past four decades, have enabled large-scale forest inventory. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), as an active remote sensing technology, allows for the acquisition of three-dimensional point clouds of scanned areas, as well as a range of features allowing for increased performance of object extraction and classification approaches. As many publications have shown, multiple LiDAR-derived metrics, with the assistance of classification algorithms, contribute to the high accuracy of tree species discrimination based on data obtained by laser scanning. The aim of this article is to review studies in the species classification literature which used data collected by Airborne Laser Scanning. We analyzed these studies to figure out the most efficient group of LiDAR-derived features in species discrimination. We also identified the most powerful classification algorithm, which maximizes the advantages of the derived metrics to increase species discrimination performance. We conclude that features extracted from full-waveform data lead to the highest overall accuracy. Radiometric features with height information are also promising, generating high species classification accuracies. Using random forest and support vector machine as classifiers gave the best species discrimination results in the reviewed publications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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Open AccessLetter
Bi-Temporal Analysis of Spatial Changes of Boreal Forest Cover and Species in Siberia for the Years 1985 and 2015
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(24), 4116; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12244116 - 16 Dec 2020
Viewed by 469
Abstract
Boreal forest is a sensitive indicator of the influence of climate change. It can quantify the level and spatial divergence of forest change for forest resources and carbon cycle research. This study selected a typical boreal forest affected by few human activities as [...] Read more.
Boreal forest is a sensitive indicator of the influence of climate change. It can quantify the level and spatial divergence of forest change for forest resources and carbon cycle research. This study selected a typical boreal forest affected by few human activities as a research area, in Siberia, with a latitude span of 51°N–69°N. A total of 150 Landsat images of this area acquired in 1985 and 2015 were collected. A hierarchical classification approach was first established to retrieve the information of forest cover and species. The forested and nonforested lands were discriminated by the decision tree method and, furthermore, the forested land was classified to broad-leaved and coniferous forests by a random forest algorithm. The overall accuracy was 90.37%, which indicates the validity of the approach. Finally, the quantitative information of the forest cover and species changes in each latitude zone of every 2° was analyzed. The results show that the overall boreal forest cover increased by 5.11% over the past three decades, with broad-leaved forest increasing by 3.54% and coniferous forest increasing by 1.57%. In addition, boreal forest increased in every latitude zone, and the spatial divergence of the changes of the boreal forest cover and species in different latitude zones were significant. Finally, broad-leaved forest increased more rapidly than coniferous forest, and the greatest increase, of up to 5.77%, occurred in the zone of 55°N–57°N. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mapping Tree Species Diversity)
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