Current issue: 57(2)
Under compilation: 57(3)
In remote sensing-based forest inventories 3D point cloud data, such as acquired from airborne laser scanning, are well suited for estimating the volume of growing stock and stand height, but tree species recognition often requires additional optical imagery. A combination of 3D data and optical imagery can be acquired based on aerial imaging only, by using stereo photogrammetric 3D canopy modeling. The use of aerial imagery is well suited for large-area forest inventories, due to low costs, good area coverage and temporally rapid cycle of data acquisition. Stereo-photogrammetric canopy modeling can also be applied to previously acquired imagery, such as for aerial ortho-mosaic production, assuming that the imagery has sufficient stereo overlap. In this study we compared two stereo-photogrammetric canopy models combined with contemporary satellite imagery in forest inventory. One canopy model was based on standard archived imagery acquired primarily for ortho-mosaic production, and another was based on aerial imagery whose acquisition parameters were better oriented for stereo-photogrammetric canopy modeling, including higher imaging resolution and greater stereo-coverage. Aerial and satellite data were tested in the estimation of growing stock volume, volumes of main tree species, basal area and diameter and height. Despite the better quality of the latter canopy model, the difference of the accuracy of the forest estimates based on the two different data sets was relatively small for most variables (differences in RMSEs were 0–20%, depending on variable). However, the estimates based on stereo-photogrammetrically oriented aerial data retained better the original variation of the forest variables present in the study area.
Optical 2D remote sensing techniques such as aerial photographing and satellite imaging have been used in forest inventory for a long time. During the last 15 years, airborne laser scanning (ALS) has been adopted in many countries for the estimation of forest attributes at stand and sub-stand levels. Compared to optical remote sensing data sources, ALS data are particularly well-suited for the estimation of forest attributes related to the physical dimensions of trees due to its 3D information. Similar to ALS, it is possible to derive a 3D forest canopy model based on aerial imagery using digital aerial photogrammetry. In this study, we compared the accuracy and spatial characteristics of 2D satellite and aerial imagery as well as 3D ALS and photogrammetric remote sensing data in the estimation of forest inventory variables using k-NN imputation and 2469 National Forest Inventory (NFI) sample plots in a study area covering approximately 5800 km2. Both 2D data were very close to each other in terms of accuracy, as were both the 3D materials. On the other hand, the difference between the 2D and 3D materials was very clear. The 3D data produce a map where the hotspots of volume, for instance, are much clearer than with 2D remote sensing imagery. The spatial correlation in the map produced with 2D data shows a lower short-range correlation, but the correlations approach the same level after 200 meters. The difference may be of importance, for instance, when analyzing the efficiency of different sampling designs and when estimating harvesting potential.