Publications

NIBIOs employees contribute to several hundred scientific articles and research reports every year. You can browse or search in our collection which contains references and links to these publications as well as other research and dissemination activities. The collection is continously updated with new and historical material.

2020

2019

Abstract

The objective of this study was to assess the use of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) data for modelling tree density and canopy height in young boreal forests stands. The use of UAV data for such tasks can be beneficial thanks to the high resolution and reduction of the time spent in the field. This study included 29 forest stands, within which 580 clustered plots were measured in the field. An area-based approach was adopted to which random forest models were fitted using the plot data and the corresponding UAV data and then applied and validated at plot and stand level. The results were compared to those of models based on airborne laser scanning (ALS) data and those from a traditional field-assessment. The models based on UAV data showed the smallest stand-level RMSE values for mean height (0.56 m) and tree density (1175 trees ha−1 ). The RMSE of the tree density using UAV data was 50% smaller than what was obtained using ALS data (2355 trees ha−1 ). Overall, this study highlighted that the use of UAVs for the inventory of forest stands under regeneration can be beneficial both because of the high accuracy of the derived data analytics and the time saving compared to traditional field assessments.

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Abstract

This study addresses the use of multiple sources of auxiliary data from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and airborne laser scanning (ALS) data for inference on key biophysical parameters in small forest properties (5–300 ha). We compared the precision of the estimates using plot data alone under a design-based inference with modelbased estimates that include plot data and the following four types of auxiliary data: (1) terrain-independent variables from UAV photogrammetric data (UAV-SfM); (2) variables obtained from UAV photogrammetric data normalized using external terrain data (UAV-SfMDTM); (3) UAV-LS and (4) ALS data. The inclusion of remotely sensed data increased the precision of DB estimates by factors of 1.5–2.2. The optimal data sources for top height, stem density, basal area and total stem volume were: UAV-LS, UAV-SfM, UAV-SfMDTM and UAV-SfMDTM. We conclude that the use of UAV data can increase the precision of stand-level estimates even under intensive field sampling conditions.

Abstract

A novel method for age-independent site index estimation is demonstrated using repeated single-tree airborne laser scanning (ALS) data. A spruce-dominated study area of 114 km2 in southern Norway was covered by single-tree ALS twice, i.e. in 2008 and 2014. We identified top height trees wall-to-wall, and for each of them we derived based on the two heights and the 6-year period length. We reconstructed past, annual height growth in a field campaign on 31 sample trees, and this showed good correspondence with ALS based heights. We found a considerable increase in site index, i.e. about 5 m in the H40 system, from the old site index values. This increase corresponded to a productivity increase of 62%. This increase appeared to mainly represent a real temporal trend caused by changing growing conditions. In addition, the increase could partly result from underestimation in old site index values. The method has the advantages of not requiring tree-age data, of representing current growing conditions, and as well that it is a cost-effective method with wall-towall coverage. In slow-growing forests and short time periods, the method is least reliable due to possible systematic differences in canopy penetration between repeated ALS scans.

Abstract

Global Forest Watch (GFW) provides a global map of annual forest cover loss (FCL) produced from Landsat imagery, offering a potentially powerful tool for monitoring changes in forest cover. In managed forests, FCL primarily provides information on commercial harvesting. A semi-autonomous method for providing data on the location and attributes of harvested sites at a landscape level was developed which could significantly improve the basis for catchment management, including risk mitigation. FCL in combination with aerial images was used for detecting and characterising harvested sites in a 1607 km2 mountainous boreal forest catchment in south-central Norway. Firstly, the forest cover loss map was enhanced (FCLE) by removing small isolated forest cover loss patches that had a high probability of representing commission errors. The FCLE map was then used to locate and assess sites representing annual harvesting activity over a 17-year period. Despite an overall accuracy of >98%, a kappa of 0.66 suggested only a moderate quality for detecting harvested sites. While errors of commission were negligible, errors of omission were more considerable and at least partially attributed to the presence of residual seed trees on the site after harvesting. The systematic analysis of harvested sites against aerial images showed a detection rate of 94%, but the area of the individual harvested site was underestimated by 29% on average. None of the site attributes tested, including slope, area, altitude, or site shape index, had any effect on the accuracy of the area estimate. The annual harvest estimate was 0.6% (standard error 12%) of the productive forest area. On average, 96% of the harvest was carried out on flat to moderately steep terrain (<40% slope), 3% on steep terrain (40% to 60% slope), and 1% on very steep terrain (>60% slope). The mean area of FCLE within each slope category was 1.7 ha, 0.9 ha, and 0.5 ha, respectively. The mean FCLE area increased from 1.0 ha to 3.2 ha on flat to moderate terrain over the studied period, while the frequency of harvesting increased from 249 to 495 sites per year. On the steep terrain, 35% of the harvesting was done with cable yarding, and 62% with harvester-forwarder systems. On the very steep terrain (>60% slope), 88% of the area was harvested using cable yarding technology while harvesters and forwarders were used on 12% of the area. Overall, FCL proved to be a useful dataset for the purpose of assessing harvesting activity under the given conditions.

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Abstract

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data have gained interest for a variety of remote sensing applications, given the capability of SAR sensors to operate independent of solar radiation and day/night conditions. However, the radiometric quality of SAR images is hindered by speckle noise, which affects further image processing and interpretation. As such, speckle reduction is a crucial pre-processing step in many remote sensing studies based on SAR imagery. This study proposes a new adaptive de-speckling method based on a Gaussian Markov Random Field (GMRF) model. The proposed method integrates both pixel-wised and contextual information using a weighted summation technique. As a by-product of the proposed method, a de-speckled pseudo-span image, which is obtained from the least-squares analysis of the de-speckled multi-polarization channels, is also produced. Experimental results from the medium resolution, fully polarimetric L-band ALOS PALSAR data demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm compared to other well-known de-speckling approaches. The de-speckled images produced by the proposed method maintainthe mean value of the original image in homogenous areas, while preserving the edges of features in heterogeneous regions. In particular, the equivalent number of look (ENL) achieved using the proposed method improves by about 15% and 47% compared to the NL-SAR and SARBM3D de-speckling approaches, respectively. Other evaluation indices, such as the mean and variance of the ratio image also reveal the superiority of the proposed method relative to other de-speckling approaches examined in this study.

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Abstract

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.