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Volume 40 No. 1
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Testing the Applicability of the Official Croatian DTM for Normalization of UAV-based DSMs and Plot-level Tree Height Estimations in Lowland Forests

Copyright © 2017 by Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering
volume: 40, issue: 1
pp: 12
Author(s):
  • Balenović Ivan
  • Jurjević Luka
  • Simic Milas Anita
  • Gašparović Mateo
  • Ivanković Danijela
  • Seletković Ante
Article category:
Original scientific paper
Keywords:
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Digital Aerial Photogrammetry, Airborne Laser Scanning, Digital Surface Model, Digital Terrain Model, forest inventory

Abstract

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The Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) technology has been implemented in operational forest
inventories in a number of countries. At the same time, as a cost-effective alternative to ALS,
Digital Aerial Photogrammetry (PHM), based on aerial images, has been widely used for the
past 10 years. Recently, PHM based on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has attracted great
attention as well. Compared to ALS, PHM is unable to penetrate the forest canopy and, ultimately,
to derive an accurate Digital Terrain Model (DTM), which is necessary to normalize
point clouds or Digital Surface Models (DSMs). Many countries worldwide, including Croatia,
still rely on PHM, as they do not have complete DTM coverage by ALS (DTMALS). The
aim of this study is to investigate if the official Croatian DTM generated from PHM (DTMPHM)
can be used for data normalization of UAV-based Digital Surface Model (DSMUAV) and estimating
plot-level mean tree height (HL) in lowland pedunculate oak forests. For that purpose,
HL estimated from DSMUAV normalized with DTMPHM and with DTMALS were generated and
compared as well as validated against field measurements. Additionally, elevation errors in
DTMPHM were detected and eliminated, and the improvement by using corrected DTMPHM
(DTMPHMc) was evaluated. Small, almost negligible variations in the results of the leave-oneout
cross-validation were observed between HL estimated using proposed methods. Compared
to field data, the relative root mean square error (RMSE%) values of HL estimated from DSMUAV
normalized with DTMALS, DTMPHM, and DTMPHMc were 5.10%, 5.14%, and 5.16%, respectively.
The results revealed that in the absence of DTMALS, the existing official Croatian DTM
could be readily used in remote sensing based forest inventory of lowland forest areas. It can
be noted that DTMPHMc did not improve the accuracy of HL estimates because the gross errors
mainly occurred outside of the study plots. However, since the existence of the gross errors in
Croatian DTMPHM has been confirmed by several studies, it is recommended to detect and
eliminate them prior to using the DTMPHM in forest inventory.

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Web of Science Impact factor (2017): 1.714
Five-years impact factor: 1.775
Next issue: January 2019

Subject area

Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Category/Quartile

Forestry/Q1