Canadian Forest Service Publications

An architectural model of trees to estimate forest structural attributes using terrestrial LiDAR. 2011. J.-F. Côté, R.A. Fournier, and R. Egli. Environmental Modelling and Software 26: 761–777.

Year: 2011

Available from: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32231

Language: English

CFS Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)


Terrestrial lidar (TLiDAR)has been used increasingly over recent years to assess tree architecture and to extract metrics of forest canopies. Analysis of TLiDAR data remains a difficult task mainly due to the effects of object occlusion and wind on the quality of the retrieved results. We propose to link TLiDAR and tree structure attributes by means of an architectural model. The proposed methodology uses TLiDAR scans combined with allometric relationships to define the total amount of foliage in the crown and to build the tree branching structure. It uses the range (distance) and intensity information of the TLiDAR scans (i) to extract the stem and main branches of the tree, (ii) to reconstruct the fine branching structure at locations where the presence of foliage is very likely, and (iii) to use the availability of light as a criterion to add foliage in the center of the crown where TLiDAR information is sparse or absent due to occlusion effects. An optiization algorithm guides the model towards a realistic tree structure that fits the information gathered from TLiDAR scans and field inventory. The robustness and validity of the proposed model are assessed on five trees belonging to four different conifer species from natural forest environments. This approach addresses the data limitation of TLiDAR scans and aims to extract forest architectural metrics at different structural levels.

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