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Three-dimensional reconstruction of stems for assessment of taper, sweep and lean based on laser scanning of standing trees

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A method and algorithm for reconstructing the three-dimensional (3D) surface of stems based on terrestrial laser scanner data from standing trees is presented. Laser scanning delivers a dense cloud of points, and this raw point data are filtered for deriving a digital terrain model and subsequent fitting of a parametric stem model. The stem model is made up of a sequence of successive cylinders that overlap in space; each cylinder is parameterized by its orientation and radius. The model is estimated iteratively from a given starting point and by adding cylinder segments. Successive segments are added whenever criteria on deviation in orientation and radius relative to the previous cylinder and a fit statistic to the point data are met. The method has proven applicable when applied to a European beech tree and a wild cherry tree from dense forest stands. The use of the resulting 3D reconstruction of tree stems in respect to diameter in breast height and height of crown base calculation, as well as taper, sweep and lean assessment of standing trees, is described. Finally, desirable future improvements to the basic algorithm are discussed.
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Keywords: 3D models; Branch-free bole length; DBH; cylinder fitting; digital terrain model; grading; polar diagrams; terrestrial laser scanner; timber quality; tree stems

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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