Canadian Forest Service Publications

The Individual Tree Crown Approach Applied to Ikonos Images of a Coniferous Plantation Area. 2006. Gougeon, F.A.; Leckie, D.G. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 72(11): 1287-1297.

Year: 2006

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26577

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

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In forestry, the availability of high spatial resolution (<1 m/pixel) imagery from new earth observation satellites like Ikonos favours a shift in the image analysis paradigm from a pixel-based approach towards one dealing directly with the essential structuring element of such images: the individual tree crown (ITC). This paper gives an initial assessment of the effects of 1 m and 4 m/pixel spatial resolutions (panchromatic and multispectral bands, respectively) on the detection, delineation, and classification of the individual tree crowns seen in Ikonos images. Winter and summer Ikonos images of the Hudson plantation of the Petawawa Research Forest, Ontario, Canada were analyzed. The panchromatic images were resampled to 0.5 m/pixel and then smoothed using a 3 × 3 kernel mean filter. A valley-following algorithm and rule-based isolation module were applied to delineate the individual tree crowns. Local maxima within a moving 3 × 3 window (i.e., Tree Tops) were also extracted from the smoothed images for comparison. Crown delineation and detection results were summarised and compared with field tree counts. Overall, the ITC delineation and the local maxima approaches led to tree counts that were on average 15 percent off for both seasons. Visual inspection reveals delineation of clusters of two or three crowns as a common source of error. Crown-based species spectral signatures were generated for six classes representing conifer species, plus a hardwood class and a shrub class. After the ITC-based classification, classification accuracy was ascertained using separate test areas of known species. The overall accuracy was 59 percent. Important confusion exists between red and white spruces, and mature versus immature white pines, but post-classification regroupings into single spruce and white pine classes led to an overall accuracy of 67 percent.