Current issue: 55(3)
Under compilation: 55(4)
Tree species composition is an essential attribute in stand-level forest management inventories and remotely sensed data might be useful for its estimation. Previous studies on this topic have had several operational drawbacks, e.g., performance studied at a small scale and at a single tree-level with large fieldwork costs. The current study presents the results from a large-area inventory providing species composition following an operational area-based approach. The study utilizes a combination of airborne laser scanning and hyperspectral data and 97 field sample plots of 250 m2 collected over 350 km2 of productive forest in Norway. The results show that, with the availability of hyperspectral data, species-specific volume proportions can be provided in operational forest management inventories with acceptable results in 90% of the cases at the plot level. Dominant species were classified with an overall accuracy of 91% and a kappa-value of 0.73. Species-specific volumes were estimated with relative root mean square differences of 34%, 87%, and 102% for Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), and deciduous species, respectively. A novel tree-based approach for selecting pixels improved the results compared to a traditional approach based on the normalized difference vegetation index.
Despite the importance of spectral properties of woody tree structures, they are seldom represented in research related to forests, remote sensing, and reflectance modeling. This study presents a novel imaging multiangular measurement set-up that utilizes a mobile handheld hyperspectral camera (Specim IQ, 400–1000 nm), and can measure stem bark spectra in a controlled laboratory setting. We measured multiangular reflectance spectra of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) stem bark, and demonstrated the potential of using bark spectra in identifying tree species using a Support Vector Machine (SVM) based approach. Intraspecific reflectance variability was the lowest in visible (400–700 nm), and the highest in near-infrared (700–1000 nm) wavelength regions. Interspecific variation was the largest in the red, red-edge and near-infrared spectral bands. Spatial variation of reflectance along the tree height and different sides of the stem (north and south) were found. Both birch and pine had increased reflectance in the forward-scattering directions for visible to near-infrared wavelength regions, whilst spruce displayed the same only for the visible wavelength region. In addition, spruce had increased reflectance in the backward-scattering directions. In spite of the intraspecific variations, SVM could identify tree species with 88.8% overall accuracy when using pixel-specific spectra, and with 97.2% overall accuracy when using mean spectra per image. Based on our results it is possible to identify common boreal tree species based on their stem bark spectra using images from mobile hyperspectral cameras.
Remote sensing using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) -borne sensors is currently a highly interesting approach for the estimation of forest characteristics. 3D remote sensing data from airborne laser scanning or digital stereo photogrammetry enable highly accurate estimation of forest variables related to the volume of growing stock and dimension of the trees, whereas recognition of tree species dominance and proportion of different tree species has been a major complication in remote sensing-based estimation of stand variables. In this study the use of UAV-borne hyperspectral imagery was examined in combination with a high-resolution photogrammetric canopy height model in estimating forest variables of 298 sample plots. Data were captured from eleven separate test sites under weather conditions varying from sunny to cloudy and partially cloudy. Both calibrated hyperspectral reflectance images and uncalibrated imagery were tested in combination with a canopy height model based on RGB camera imagery using the k-nearest neighbour estimation method. The results indicate that this data combination allows accurate estimation of stand volume, mean height and diameter: the best relative RMSE values for those variables were 22.7%, 7.4% and 14.7%, respectively. In estimating volume and dimension-related variables, the use of a calibrated image mosaic did not bring significant improvement in the results. In estimating the volumes of individual tree species, the use of calibrated hyperspectral imagery generally brought marked improvement in the estimation accuracy; the best relative RMSE values for the volumes for pine, spruce, larch and broadleaved trees were 34.5%, 57.2%, 45.7% and 42.0%, respectively.