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Accuracy Assessment of Digital Terrain Models of Lowland Pedunculate Oak Forests Derived from Airborne Laser Scanning and Photogrammetry

volume: 39, issue: 1

Digital terrain models (DTMs) present important data source for different applications in
environmental disciplines including forestry. At regional level, DTMs are commonly created
using airborne digital photogrammetry or airborne laser scanning (ALS) technology. This
study aims to evaluate the vertical accuracy of DTMs of different spatial resolutions derived
from high-density ALS data and existing photogrammetric (PHM) data in the dense lowland
even-aged pedunculate oak forests located in the Pokupsko basin in Central Croatia. As expected,
the assessment of DTMs’ vertical accuracy using 22 ground checkpoints shows higher
accuracy for ALS-derived than for PHM-derived DTMs. Concerning the different resolutions
of ALS-derived (0.5 m, 1 m, 2 m, 5 m) and PHM-derived DTMs (0.5 m, 1 m, 2 m, 5 m,
8 m) compared in this research, the ALS-derived DTM with the finest resolution of 0.5 m
shows the highest accuracy. The root mean square error (RMSE) and mean error (ME) values
for ALS-derived DTMs range from 0.14 m to 0.15 m and from 0.09 to 0.12 m, respectively,
and the values decrease with decreasing spatial resolution. For the PHM-derived DTMs, the
RMSE and ME values are almost identical regardless of resolution and they are 0.35 m and
0.17 m, respectively. The findings suggest that the 8 m spatial resolution is optimal for a
given photogrammetric data, and no finer than 8 m spatial resolution is required. This research
also reveals that the national digital photogrammetric data in the study area contain certain
errors (outliers) specific to the terrain type, which could considerably affect the DTM accuracy.
Thus, preliminary evaluation of photogrammetric data should be done to eliminate possible
outliers prior to the DTM generation in lowland forests with flat terrain. In the absence
of ALS data, the finding in this research could be of interests to countries, which still rely on
similar photogrammetric data for DTM generation.

Application of Black-Bridge Satellite Imagery for the Spatial Distribution of Salvage Cutting in Stands Damaged by Wind

volume: 40, issue: 1

Salvage logging is performed to remove the fallen and damaged trees after a natural disturbance,
e.g., fire or windstorm. From an economic point of view, it is desirable to remove the
most valuable merchantable timber, but usually, the process depends mainly on topography
and distance to forest roads. The objective of this study was to evaluate the suitability of the
Black-Bridge satellite imagery for the spatial distribution of salvage cutting in southern Poland
after the severe windstorm in July 2015. In particular, this study aimed to determine which
factors influence the spatial distribution of salvage cutting. The area of windthrow and the
distribution of salvage cutting (July–August 2015 and August 2015–May 2016) were delineated
using Black-Bridge satellite imagery. The distribution of the polygons (representing
windthrow and salvage cutting) was verified with maps of aspect, elevation and slope, derived
from the Digital Terrain Model and the distance to forest roads, obtained from the Digital
Forest Map. The analysis included statistical modelling of the relationships between the process
of salvage cutting and selected geographical and spatial features. It was found that the higher
the elevation and the steeper the slope, the lower the probability of salvage cutting. Exposure
was also found to be a relevant factor (however, it was difficult to interpret) as opposed to the
distance to forest roads.

Automated Volumetric Measurements of Truckloads through Multi-View Photogrammetry and 3D Reconstruction Software

volume: 40, issue: 1

Since wood represents an important proportion of the delivered cost, it is important to embrace
and implement correct measurement procedures and technologies that provide better wood
volume estimates of logs on trucks. Poor measurements not only impact the revenue obtained
by haulage contractors and forest companies but also might affect their contractual business
relationship. Although laser scanning has become a mature and more affordable technology in
the forestry domain, it remains expensive to adopt and implement in real-life operating
conditions. In this study, multi-view Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry and
commercial 3D image processing software were tested as an innovative and alternative method
for automated volumetric measurement of truckloads. The images were collected with a small
UAV, which was flown around logging trucks transporting Eucalyptus nitens pulplogs.
Photogrammetric commercial software was used to process the images and generate 3D models
of each truckload. The levels of accuracy obtained with multi-view SfM photogrammetry and
3D reconstruction obtained in this study were comparable to those reported in previous studies
with laser scanning systems for truckloads with similar logs and species. The deviations between
the actual and predicted solid volume of logs on trucks ranged between –3.2% and 3.5%, with
an average deviation of –0.05%. In absolute terms, the average deviation was only 0.5 m3 or
1.7%. Although several aspects must be addressed for the operational implementation of SfM
photogrammetry, the results of this study demonstrate the great potential for this method to be
used as a cost-effective tool to aid in the determination of the solid volume of logs on trucks.

Testing the Applicability of the Official Croatian DTM for Normalization of UAV-based DSMs and Plot-level Tree Height Estimations in Lowland Forests

volume: 40, issue: 1

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.

Hand-Held Personal Laser Scanning – Current Status and Perspectives for Forest Inventory Application

volume: 42, issue:

The emergence of hand-held Personal Laser Scanning (H-PLS) systems in recent years resulted in initial research on the possibility of its application in forest inventory, primarily for the estimation of the main tree attributes (e.g. tree detection, stem position, DBH, tree height, etc.). Research knowledge acquired so far can help to direct further research and eventually include H-PLS into operational forest inventory in the future. The main aims of this review are:

Þ   to present the current state of the art for H-PLS systems

Þ   briefly describe the fundamental concept and methods for H-PLS application in forest inventory

Þ   provide an overview of the results of previous studies

Þ   emphasize pros and cons for H-PLS application in forest inventory in relation to conventional field measurements and other similar laser scanning systems

Þ   highlight the main issues that should be covered by further H-PLS-based forest inventory studies.

A review of Sensors, Sensor-Platforms and Methods Used in 3D Modelling of Soil Displacement after Timber Harvesting

volume: 42, issue:

Proximal sensing technologies are becoming widely used across a range of applications in environmental sciences. One of these applications is in the measurement of the ground surface in describing soil displacement impacts from wheeled and tracked machinery in the forest. Within a period of 2–3 years, the use photogrammetry, LiDAR, ultrasound and time-of-flight imaging based methods have been demonstrated in both experimental and operational settings. This review provides insight into the aims, sampling design, data capture and processing, and outcomes of papers dealing specifically with proximal sensing of soil displacement resulting from timber harvesting. The work reviewed includes examples of sensors mounted on tripods and rigs, on personal platforms including handheld and backpack mounted, on mobile platforms constituted by forwarders and skidders, as well as on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The review further highlights and discusses the benefits, challenges, and some of the shortcomings of the various technologies and their application as interpreted by the authors.

The majority of the work reviewed reflects pioneering approaches and innovative applications of the technologies. The studies have been carried out almost simultaneously, building on little or no common experience, and the evolution of standardized methods is not yet fully apparent. Some of the issues that will likely need to be addressed in developing this field are (i) the tendency toward generating apparently excessively high resolution micro-topography models without demonstrating the need for or contribution of such resolutions on accuracy, (ii) the inadequacy of conventional manual measurements in verifying the accuracy of these methods at such high resolutions, and (iii) the lack of a common protocol for planning, carrying out, and reporting this type of study.

Developing an Automated Monitoring System for Cable Yarding Systems

volume: 42, issue:

Cable yarders are often the preferred harvesting system when extracting trees on steep terrain. While the practice of cable logging is well established, productivity is dependent on many stand and terrain variables. Being able to continuously monitor a cable yarder operation would provide the opportunity not only to manage and improve the system, but also to study the effect on operations in different conditions.

This paper presents the results of an automated monitoring system that was developed and tested on a series of cable yarder operations. The system is based on the installation of a Geographical Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) onto the carriage, coupled with a data-logging unit and a data analysis program. The analysis program includes a set of algorithms able to transform the raw carriage movement data into detailed timing elements. Outputs include basic aspects such average extraction distance, average inhaul and outhaul carriage speed, but is also able to distinguish number of cycles, cycle time, as well as break the cycles into its distinct elements of outhaul, hook, inhaul and unhook.

The system was tested in eight locations; four in thinning operations in Italy and four clear-cut operations in New Zealand, using three different rigging configuration of motorized slack-pulling, motorized grapple and North Bend. At all locations, a manual time and motion study was completed for comparison to the data produced by the newly developed automated system. Results showed that the system was able to identify 98% of the 369 cycles measured. The 8 cycles not detected were directly attributed to the loss of GNSS signal at two Italian sites with tree cover. For the remaining 361 cycles, the difference in gross cycle time was less than 1% and the overall accuracy for the separate elements of the cycle was less than 3% when considered at the rigging system level. The study showed that the data analyses system developed can readily convert GNSS data of the carriage movement into information useful for monitoring and studying cable yarding operations.

Construction and Accuracy Analysis of a BDS/GPS-Integrated Positioning Algorithm for Forests

volume: 42, issue:

The objective of this study was to construct a BeiDou navigation satellite system (BDS)/global positioning system (GPS)-integrated positioning algorithm that meets the accuracy requirement of forest surveys and to analyze its accuracy to provide theoretical and technical support for accurate positioning and navigation in forests. The Quercus variabilis broad-leaved forest in Jiufeng National Forest Park and the Sabina Coniferous forest in Dongsheng Bajia forest farm were selected as the study area. A Sanding T-23 multi-frequency three-constellation receiver and a u-blox NEO-M8T multi-constellation receiving module were used for continuous observation under the forest canopy. Compared with T-23, the u-blox NEO-M8T is much lighter and more flexible in the forest. The BDS/GPS-integrated positioning algorithm for forests was constructed by temporally and spatially unifying the satellite systems and using a reasonable observed value weighting method. Additionally, the algorithm is also written into the RTKLIB software to calculate the three-dimensional (3D) coordinates of the forest observation point in the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS-84) coordinate system. Finally, the results were compared with the positioning results obtained using GPS alone. The experimental results indicated that, compared with GPS positioning, there were 13–27 visible satellites available for the BDS/GPS-integrated positioning algorithm for forests, far more than the satellites available for the GPS positioning algorithm alone. The Position Dilution of Precision (PDOP) values for the BDS/GPS-integrated positioning ranged from 0.5 to 1.9, lower than those for GPS positioning. The signal noise ratio (SNR) of the BDS/GPS-integrated satellite signals and GPS satellite signals were both in the range of 10–50 dB-Hz. However, because there were more visible satellites for the BDS/GPS-integrated positioning, the signals from the BDS/GPS-integrated satellites were stronger and had a more stable SNR than those from the GPS satellites alone. The results obtained using the BDS/GPS-integrated positioning algorithm for forests had significantly higher theoretical and actual accuracies in the X, Y and Z directions than those obtained using the GPS positioning algorithm. This suggests that the BDS/GPS-integrated positioning algorithm can obtain more accurate positioning results for complex forest environments.

Green Infrastructure Mapping in Urban Areas Using Sentinel-1 Imagery

volume: 42, issue:

High temporal resolution of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery (e.g., Sentinel-1 (S1) imagery) creates new possibilities for monitoring green vegetation in urban areas and generating land-cover classification (LCC) maps. This research evaluates how different pre-processing steps of SAR imagery affect classification accuracy. Machine learning (ML) methods were applied in three different study areas: random forest (RF), support vector machine (SVM), and extreme gradient boosting (XGB). Since the presence of the speckle noise in radar imagery is inevitable, different adaptive filters were examined. Using the backscattering values of the S1 imagery, the SVM classifier achieved a mean overall accuracy (OA) of 63.14%, and a Kappa coefficient (Kappa) of 0.50. Using the SVM classifier with a Lee filter with a window size of 5×5 (Lee5) for speckle reduction, mean values of 73.86% and 0.64 for OA and Kappa were achieved, respectively. An additional increase in the LCC was obtained with texture features calculated from a grey-level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM). The highest classification accuracy obtained for the extracted GLCM texture features using the SVM classifier, and Lee5 filter was 78.32% and 0.69 for the mean OA and Kappa values, respectively. This study improved LCC with an evaluation of various radiometric and texture features and confirmed the ability to apply an SVM classifier. For the supervised classification, the SVM method outperformed the RF and XGB methods, although the highest computational time was needed for the SVM, whereas XGB performed the fastest. These results suggest pre-processing steps of the SAR imagery for green infrastructure mapping in urban areas. Future research should address the use of multitemporal SAR data along with the pre-processing steps and ML algorithms described in this research.

An Automated Approach for Extracting Forest Inventory Data from Individual Trees Using a Handheld Mobile Laser Scanner

volume: 42, issue:

Many dendrometric parameters have been estimated by light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology over the last two decades. Handheld mobile laser scanning (HMLS), in particular, has come into prominence as a cost-effective data collection method for forest inventories. However, most pilot studies were performed in domesticated landscapes, where the environmental settings were far from those presented by (near)natural forest ecosystems. Besides, these studies consisted of numerous data processing steps, which were challenging when employed by manual means. Here we present an automated approach for deriving key inventory data using the HMLS method in natural forest areas. To this end, many algorithms (e.g., cylinder/circle/ellipse fitting) and machine learning models (e.g., random forest classifier) were used in the data processing stage for estimation of the tree diameter at breast height (DBH) and the number of trees. The estimates were then compared against the reference data obtained by field measurements from six forest sample plots. The results showed that correlations between the estimated and reference DBHs were very strong at the plot level (r=0.83–0.99, p<0.05). The average RMSE for tree DBHs was 1.8 cm at the forest landscape level. As for tree detection, 92.5% of 292 trunks were correctly classified on point cloud data. In general, estimation accuracy was sufficient for operational forest inventory needs. However, they could markedly decrease in »hard plots« located at rocky terrains with dense undergrowth and irregular trunks. We concluded that area-based forest inventories might hugely benefit from the HMLS method, particularly in »easy plots«. By improving the algorithmic performances, the accuracy levels can be further increased by future research.

Field Setup and Assessment of a Cloud-Data Based Crane Scale (CCS) Considering Weight- and Local Green Wood Density-Related Volume References

volume: 43, issue:

When investigating the forwarding process within the timber supply chain, insufficient data often inhibits long-term studies or make real-time optimisation of the logistics process difficult. Information sources to compensate for this lack of data either depend on other processing steps or they need additional, costly hardware, such as conventional crane scales. An innovative weight-detection concept using information provided by a commonly available hydraulic pressure sensor may make the introduction of a low-cost weight information system possible. In this system, load weight is estimated by an artificial neural network (ANN) based on machine data such as the hydraulic pressure of the inner boom cylinder and the grapple position.

In our study, this type of crane scale was set up and tested under real working conditions, implemented as a cloud application. The weight scale ANN algorithm was therefore modified for robustness and executed on data collected with a commonly available telematics module. To evaluate the system, also with regard to larger sample sizes, both direct weight-reference measurements and additional volume-reference measurements were made. For the second, locally valid weight-volume conversion factors for mainly Norway spruce (Picea abies, 906 kg m-3, standard error of means (SEM) of 13.6 kg m-3), including mean density change over the observation time (–0.16% per day), were determined and used as supportive weight-to-volume conversion factor.

Although the accuracy of the weight scale was lower than in previous laboratory tests, the system showed acceptable error behaviour for different observation purposes. The twice-observed SEM of 1.5% for the single loading movements (n=95, root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 15.3% for direct weight reference; n=440, RMSE=33.2% for volume reference) enables long-term observations considering the average value, but the high RMSE reveals problems with regard to the single value information.

The full forwarder load accuracy, as unit of interest, was observed with an RMSE of 10.6% (n=41), considering a calculated weight-volume conversion as reference value. An SEM of 5.1% for already five observations with direct weight reference provides a good starting point for work-progress observation support.

Field Setup and Assessment of a Cloud-Data Based Crane Scale (CCS) Considering Weight- and Local Green Wood Density-Related Volume References

volume: issue, issue:

When investigating the forwarding process within the timber supply chain, insufficient data often inhibits long-term studies or make real-time optimisation of the logistics process difficult. Information sources to compensate for this lack of data either depend on other processing steps or they need additional, costly hardware, such as conventional crane scales. An innovative weight-detection concept using information provided by a commonly available hydraulic pressure sensor may make the introduction of a low-cost weight information system possible. In this system, load weight is estimated by an artificial neural network (ANN) based on machine data such as the hydraulic pressure of the inner boom cylinder and the grapple position.

In our study, this type of crane scale was set up and tested under real working conditions, implemented as a cloud application. The weight scale ANN algorithm was therefore modified for robustness and executed on data collected with a commonly available telematics module. To evaluate the system, also with regard to larger sample sizes, both direct weight-reference measurements and additional volume-reference measurements were made. For the second, locally valid weight-volume conversion factors for mainly Norway spruce (Picea abies, 906 kg m-3, standard error of means (SEM) of 13.6 kg m-3), including mean density change over the observation time (–0.16% per day), were determined and used as supportive weight-to-volume conversion factor.

Although the accuracy of the weight scale was lower than in previous laboratory tests, the system showed acceptable error behaviour for different observation purposes. The twice-observed SEM of 1.5% for the single loading movements (n=95, root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 15.3% for direct weight reference; n=440, RMSE=33.2% for volume reference) enables long-term observations considering the average value, but the high RMSE reveals problems with regard to the single value information.

The full forwarder load accuracy, as unit of interest, was observed with an RMSE of 10.6% (n=41), considering a calculated weight-volume conversion as reference value. An SEM of 5.1% for already five observations with direct weight reference provides a good starting point for work-progress observation support.

Evaluating the Accuracy of Remote Dendrometers in Tree Diameter Measurements at Breast Height

volume: 43, issue:

An accurate tree diameter (DBH) measurement is a significant component of forest inventory. This study assessed the reliability of remote dendrometers to measure tree DBH. We compared direct caliper measurements (reference measurements) to the remote measurements collected from a laser caliper and a smartphone at 0.5 m, 1 m, and 1.5 m distances from each tree within three forest types (pine, oak, and poplar forests). In general, all remote dendrometers underestimated the mean diameter compared to direct caliper measurements, regardless of forest types and distances. We observed that the mean deviation of direct caliper measurement and smartphone measurement at 1.5 m within a pine forest and oak forest were the lowest (0.3 cm and 0.36 cm, respectively). The deviations between direct caliper measurements and smartphone measurements at a 0.5 m distance, across forest types, were noticeably larger compared to others. An ANOVA test was used to determine whether significant deviations existed between caliper measurements and remote measurements at a specific distance, and among three different forest types. We rejected the null hypothesis, which suggested that there were no statistically significant differences (p<0.05) between tree DBH measurements obtained from the direct caliper measurements and indirect measurements (smartphone and laser caliper) captured at a distance. Then, a post-hoc test was performed to examine which set of estimated deviations was different from the reference data. The results suggested that indirect tree DBH measurements using the smartphone app at 1 m and 1.5 m in certain forest types (pine and oak) were not significantly different from direct tree DBH measurements. Also, our test results mostly indicated no significant difference within each forest, except for measurements using the smartphone app at 0.5 m across all forest types when the smartphone measurements were compared to laser caliper measurements. Although forest characteristics and measurement distance may play an important role in remote tree DBH measurement accuracy, the smartphone app may be used as a practical alternative to direct measurement in measuring the DBH of a tree, which may be a positive development for forestry due to the increased use of smartphones and the availability of a free measure app.

Evaluating the Accuracy of Remote Dendrometers in Tree Diameter Measurements at Breast Height

volume: issue, issue:

An accurate tree diameter (DBH) measurement is a significant component of forest inventory. This study assessed the reliability of remote dendrometers to measure tree DBH. We compared direct caliper measurements (reference measurements) to the remote measurements collected from a laser caliper and a smartphone at 0.5 m, 1 m, and 1.5 m distances from each tree within three forest types (pine, oak, and poplar forests). In general, all remote dendrometers underestimated the mean diameter compared to direct caliper measurements, regardless of forest types and distances. We observed that the mean deviation of direct caliper measurement and smartphone measurement at 1.5 m within a pine forest and oak forest were the lowest (0.3 cm and 0.36 cm, respectively). The deviations between direct caliper measurements and smartphone measurements at a 0.5 m distance, across forest types, were noticeably larger compared to others. An ANOVA test was used to determine whether significant deviations existed between caliper measurements and remote measurements at a specific distance, and among three different forest types. We rejected the null hypothesis, which suggested that there were no statistically significant differences (p<0.05) between tree DBH measurements obtained from the direct caliper measurements and indirect measurements (smartphone and laser caliper) captured at a distance. Then, a post-hoc test was performed to examine which set of estimated deviations was different from the reference data. The results suggested that indirect tree DBH measurements using the smartphone app at 1 m and 1.5 m in certain forest types (pine and oak) were not significantly different from direct tree DBH measurements. Also, our test results mostly indicated no significant difference within each forest, except for measurements using the smartphone app at 0.5 m across all forest types when the smartphone measurements were compared to laser caliper measurements. Although forest characteristics and measurement distance may play an important role in remote tree DBH measurement accuracy, the smartphone app may be used as a practical alternative to direct measurement in measuring the DBH of a tree, which may be a positive development for forestry due to the increased use of smartphones and the availability of a free measure app.

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Web of Science Impact factor (2020): 2.088
Five-years impact factor: 2.077

Quartile: Q2 - Forestry

Subject area

Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Category/Quartile

Forestry/Q1