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Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR): An Emerging Tool for Multiple Resource Inventory

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Abstract:

Airborne laser scanning of forests has been shown to provide accurate terrain models and, at the same time, estimates of multiple resource inventory variables through active sensing of three-dimensional (3D) forest vegetation. Brief overviews of airborne laser scanning technology [often referred to as “light detection and ranging” (LIDAR)] and research findings on its use in forest measurement and monitoring are presented. Currently, many airborne laser scanning missions are flown with specifications designed for terrain mapping, often resulting in data sets that do not contain key information needed for vegetation measurement. Therefore, standards and specifications for airborne laser scanning missions are needed to insure their usefulness for vegetation measurement and monitoring, rather than simply terrain mapping (e.g., delivery of all return data with reflection intensity). Five simple, easily understood LIDAR-derived forest data products are identified that would help insure that forestry needs are considered when multiresource LIDAR missions are flown. Once standards are developed, there is an opportunity to maximize the value of permanent ground plot remeasurements by also collecting airborne laser data over a limited number of plots each year.

Keywords: LIDAR; airborne laser scanning; environmental management; forest; forest inventory; forest management; forest monitoring; forest resources; forest structure; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Team Leader USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station University of Washington 292 Bloedel Hall Seattle WA 98195-2100, Email: sreutebuch@fs.fed.us 2: Research Scientist Precision Forestry Cooperative University of Washington 292 Bloedel Hall Seattle WA 98195-2100, Email: hanserik@u.washington.edu 3: Research Forester USDA Forest Service University of Washington, PO Box 352100, Seattle WA 98195-2100, Email: bmcgaughey@fs.fed.us

Publication date: September 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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