Canadian Forest Service Publications

Individual tree crown image analysis - A step towards precision forestry. 2001. Gougeon, F.A.; Leckie, D.G. Page (Not paginated) in First Int. Precision Forestry Symposium (CD-ROM), June 17-20, 2001, Seattle, Washington, USA. University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Year: 2001

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 18348

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

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Worldwide economy, environmental concerns, and stricter legislation governing forestry practices have put increased demands on forest managers. Riparian zone delineation, helicopter logging, plantation monitoring, selective cuts, just in time delivery, biodiversity and wildlife management are all various aspects of the same coin. The information requirements brought on by these activities is staggering. Existing information tools are inadequate and hamper the progress of forest management activities such as precision forestry. The use of high spatial resolution (10-100cm/pixel) remotely sensed images (aerial or satellite) or scanned aerial photographs, presents possibilities to analyze forested areas on an individual tree crown (ITC) basis.

The Canadian Forest Service is at the forefront of research on individual tree crown based image analysis. We have developed techniques, methods and processes to separate forested from non-forested areas, delineate individual tree crowns, identify their species, and if needed, regroup them into forest stands or environmental strata. Eventually, forest managers will forgo static regroupings in favor of keeping all of the information about the individual tree crowns themselves (e.g., position, crown area, height, species, and dominance). Regrouping would be done on demand, for each specific application, if done at all. In addition, the unprecedented level of details afforded by ITC techniques should allow us to extract a variety of additional forest management information such as: snag locations, forest gap sizes and distribution, highly-valued tree locations, detailed damage and regeneration assessments. This may also lead to more precise volume and biomass estimates and foster the use of individual tree growth models.

This paper first presents some of the image analysis concepts, methods and tools behind producing ITC-based forest inventories and then, reports on some successful applications, limitations, and ongoing research.