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Potential of UltraCamX stereo images for estimating timber volume and basal area at the plot level in mixed European forests

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Current technical advances in the field of digital photogrammetry demonstrate the great potential of automatic image matching for deriving dense surface measurements of the forest canopy. In contrast to airborne laser scanning (ALS), aerial stereo images are updated more regularly by national or regional mapping agencies in several countries. Frequently, ALS-based terrain models (DTMs) are available, and thus photogrammetric canopy heights can be derived. However, currently, there is little knowledge as to how accurately forest attributes can be modeled using the aerial stereo images acquired by these official, regular aerial surveys, especially for mixed forests in central Europe. Thus, a photogrammetric point cloud derived from UltraCamX stereo images in combination with an ALS-DTM and a classification of coniferous and deciduous tree regions (based on orthoimages) was used to create a stratified estimation of timber volume and basal area in a mixed forest in Germany. Suitable models were derived at the plot level using explanatory variables from the photogrammetric point cloud (which was normalized using an ALS-DTM). The prior stratification of conifer- and deciduous-dominated field plots slightly improved the estimation accuracy. The results verify that stereo images can be an alternative to ALS data for modeling key forest attributes, even in mixed central European forests with complex structure.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2013-0125

Affiliations: 1: Bavarian State Institute of Forestry (LWF), Department of Information Technology, Research Group: Remote Sensing, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 1, D-85354 Freising, Germany. 2: Swiss Federal Research Institute (WSL), Landscape Dynamics, Zuercherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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