Canadian Forest Service Publications

Spatially explicit large area biomass estimation: three approaches using forest inventory and remotely sensed imagery in a GIS. 2008. Wulder, M.A.; White, J.C.; Fournier, R.A.; Luther, J.E.; Magnussen, S. Sensors 8: 529-560.

Year: 2008

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 28078

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Mark record


Forest inventory data often provide the required base data to enable the large area mapping of biomass over a range of scales. However, spatially explicit estimates of above-ground biomass (AGB) over large areas may be limited by the spatial extent of the forest inventory relative to the area of interest (i.e., inventories not spatially exhaustive), or by the omission of inventory attributes required for biomass estimation. These spatial and attributional gaps in the forest inventory may result in an underestimation of large area AGB. The continuous nature and synoptic coverage of remotely sensed data have led to their increased application for AGB estimation over large areas, although the use of these data remains challenging in complex forest environments. In this paper, we present an approach to generating spatially explicit estimates of large area AGB by integrating AGB estimates from multiple data sources; 1. using a lookup table of conversion factors applied to a non-spatially exhaustive forest inventory dataset (R2 = 0.64; RMSE = 16.95 t/ha), 2. applying a lookup table to unique combinations of land cover and vegetation density outputs derived from remotely sensed data (R2 = 0.52; RMSE = 19.97 t/ha), and 3. hybrid mapping by augmenting forest inventory AGB estimates with remotely sensed AGB estimates where there are spatial or attributional gaps in the forest inventory data. Over our 714,852 ha study area in central Saskatchewan, Canada, the AGB estimate generated from the forest inventory was approximately 40 Mega tonnes (Mt); however, the inventory estimate represents only 51% of the total study area. The AGB estimate generated from the remotely sensed outputs that overlap those made from the forest inventory based approach differ by only 2 %; however in total, the remotely sensed estimate is 30 % greater (58 Mt) than the estimate generated from the forest inventory when the entire study area is accounted for. Finally, using the hybrid approach, whereby the remotely sensed inputs were used to fill spatial gaps in the forest inventory, the total AGB for the study area was estimated at 62 Mt. In the example presented, data integration facilitates comprehensive and spatially explicit estimation of AGB for the entire study area.