Current issue: 53(2)
Under compilation: 53(3)
Airborne laser scanning (ALS) data is nowadays often available for forest inventory purposes, but adequate field data for constructing new forest attribute models for each area may be lacking. Thus there is a need to study the transferability of existing ALS-based models among different inventory areas. The objective of our study was to apply ALS-based mixed models to estimate the diameter, height and crown base height of individual sawlog sized Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris L.) at three different inventory sites in eastern Finland. Different ALS sensors and acquisition parameters were used at each site. Multivariate mixed-effects models were fitted at one site and the models were validated at two independent test sites. Validation was carried out by applying the fixed parts of the mixed models as such, and by calibrating them using 1–3 sample trees per plot. The results showed that the relative RMSEs of the predictions were 1.2–6.5 percent points larger at the test sites compared to the training site. Systematic errors of 2.4–6.2 percent points also emerged at the test sites. However, both the RMSEs and the systematic errors decreased with calibration. The results showed that mixed-effects models of individual tree attributes can be successfully transferred and calibrated to other ALS inventory areas in a level of accuracy that appears suitable for practical applications.
This study examines the alternatives to include crown base height (CBH) predictions in operational forest inventories based on airborne laser scanning (ALS) data. We studied 265 field sample plots in a strongly pine-dominated area in northeastern Finland. The CBH prediction alternatives used area-based metrics of sparse ALS data to produce this attribute by means of: 1) Tree-level imputation based on the k-nearest neighbor (k-nn) method and full field-measured tree lists including CBH observations as reference data; 2) Tree-level mixed-effects model (LME) prediction based on tree diameter (DBH) and height and ALS metrics as predictors of the models; 3) Plot-level prediction based on analyzing the computational geometry and topology of the ALS point clouds; and 4) Plot-level regression analysis using average CBH observations of the plots for model fitting. The results showed that all of the methods predicted CBH with an accuracy of 1–1.5 m. The plot-level regression model was the most accurate alternative, although alternatives producing tree-level information may be more interesting for inventories aiming at forest management planning. For this purpose, k-nn approach is promising and it only requires that field measurements of CBH is added to the tree lists used as reference data. Alternatively, the LME-approach produced good results especially in the case of dominant trees.