Current issue: 54(2)
Under compilation: 54(3)
Accurately positioned single-tree data obtained from a cut-to-length harvester were used as training harvester plot data for k-nearest neighbor (k-nn) stem diameter distribution modelling applying airborne laser scanning (ALS) information as predictor variables. Part of the same harvester data were also used for stand-level validation where the validation units were stands including all the harvester plots on a systematic grid located within each individual stand. In the validation all harvester plots within a stand and also the neighboring stands located closer than 200 m were excluded from the training data when predicting for plots of a particular stand. We further compared different training harvester plot sizes, namely 200 m2, 400 m2, 900 m2 and 1600 m2. Due to this setup the number of considered stands and the areas within the stands varied between the different harvester plot sizes. Our data were from final fellings in Akershus County in Norway and consisted of altogether 47 stands dominated by Norway spruce. We also had ALS data from the area. We concentrated on estimating characteristics of Norway spruce but due to the k-nn approach, species-wise estimates and stand totals as a sum over species were considered as well. The results showed that in the most accurate cases stand-level merchantable total volume could be estimated with RMSE values smaller than 9% of the mean. This value can be considered as highly accurate. Also the fit of the stem diameter distribution assessed by a variant of Reynold’s error index showed values smaller than 0.2 which are superior to those found in the previous studies. The differences between harvester plot sizes were generally small, showing most accurate results for the training harvester plot sizes 200 m2 and 400 m2.
Airborne laser scanning (ALS) has been the main method for acquiring data for forest management planning in Finland and Norway in the last decade. Recently, digital aerial photogrammetry (DAP) has provided an interesting alternative, as the accuracy of stand-based estimates has been quite close to that of ALS while the costs are markedly smaller. Thus, it is important to know if the better accuracy of ALS is worth the higher costs for forest owners. In many recent studies, the value of forest inventory information in the harvest scheduling has been examined, for instance through cost-plus-loss analysis. Cost-plus-loss means that the quality of the data is accounted for in monetary terms through calculating the losses due to errors in the data in the forest management planning context. These costs are added to the inventory costs. In the current study, we compared the losses of ALS and DAP at plot level. According to the results, the data produced using DAP are as good as data produced using ALS from a decision making point of view, even though ALS is slightly more accurate. ALS is better than DAP only if the data will be used for more than 15 years before acquiring new data, and even then the difference is quite small. Thus, the increased errors in DAP do not significantly affect the results from a decision making point of view, and ALS and DAP data can be equally well recommended to the forest owners for management planning. The decision of which data to acquire, can thus be made based on the availability of the data on first hand and the costs of acquiring it on the second hand.