University of Tasmania

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A comparison of area-based forest attributes derived from airborne laser scanner, small-format and medium-format digital aerial photography

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 23:12 authored by Iqbal, IA, Musk, RA, Jonathan OsbornJonathan Osborn, Stone, C, Arko LucieerArko Lucieer
Forest inventory operations have greatly benefitted from remotely sensed data particularly airborne laser scanning (ALS) which has become a popular technology choice for large-area forest inventories. For remote regions, for fragmented estates or for single stand-level inventories ALS may be unsuitable because of the high cost of data acquisition. Point cloud data generated from digital aerial photography (DAP) is emerging as a cost-effective alternative to ALS. In this study we compared area-based forest inventory attributes derived from point cloud datasets sourced from ALS, small-format and medium-format digital aerial photography (SFP and MFP). Non-parametric modelling approach, namely RandomForest, was employed to model forest structural attributes at both plot- and stand-levels. The results were evaluated using field data collected at 105 inventory plots. At plot-level, the maximum difference among relative RMSEs of basal area (BA), top height (Htop), stocking (N) and total stem volume (TSV) of the three datasets was 2.46%, 0.55%, 13.29% and 2.53%, respectively. At stand-level, the maximum difference among relative RMSEs of BA, Htop, N and TSV of the three datasets was 3.86%, 1.25%, 7.85% and 6.04%, respectively. This study demonstrates the robustness of DAP across different sensors, and thus informs forest managers planning data acquisition solutions to best suit their operational needs.


Forest & Wood Products Australia Limited


Publication title

International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation








School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Elsevier BV

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Evaluation, allocation, and impacts of land use; Softwood plantations