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Estimation of diameter and basal area distributions in coniferous forest by means of airborne laser scanner data

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Diameter and basal area distributions are used in many forest management planning packages for predicting stand volume and growth. The distribution parameters and the 24 and 93 percentiles for parameter recovery of a two-parameter Weibull were derived for empirical diameter and basal area distributions of 54 plots of 3740 m 2 each. Regression analysis was used to relate the distribution parameters and percentiles to various canopy height and canopy density metrics derived from airborne laser scanner data over young and mature coniferous forest. On average, the distance between transmitted laser pulses was 1.0 m on the ground. Aerial photo-interpretation was used to divide the plots into three strata according to age class and site quality. The stratum-specific regressions explained 20-93% of the variability in the observed percentiles. Total plot volume predicted from the estimated distributions was used to assess the accuracy of the regressions. Cross-validation of the regressions revealed a bias of −4.8 to 2.7% between predicted and ground-truth values of plot volume when the predicted frequencies of the diameter and basal area distributions were scaled to ground-truth stem number ( N ) and basal area ( G ), respectively. The standard deviations (SD) of the differences between predicted and ground-truth values of plot volume were 5.6-29.1%. However, when the scaling variables ( N and G ) were predicted from the laser data, the bias of plot volume determined by cross-validation was −4.7 to 6.6% and the SD was 11.4-24.2%.
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Keywords: Airborne laser scanning; Weibull distribution; basal area distribution; diameter distribution

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2004

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