Canadian Forest Service Publications

Digital high spatial resolution aerial imagery to support forest health monitoring: the mountain pine beetle context. 2012. Wulder, M.A.; White, J.C.; Coggins, S.; Ortlepp, S.M.; Coops, N.C.; Heath, J.; Mora, B. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 6: 062527.

Year: 2012

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 33690

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1117/1.JRS.6.062527

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We summarize the capacity of high spatial resolution (<1  m) digital aerial imagery to support forest health monitoring. We review the current use of digital aerial imagery in the context of the recent mountain pine beetle epidemic in western Canada. Supported by this review, we posit that high spatial resolution digital aerial imagery can play at least two critical roles in forest health monitoring. First, the capacity to characterize damage at the individual tree level directly supports a broad range of forest health information needs (e.g., tree-level attributes for estimating the population at risk and for inputs to models, estimates of mortality, rates of population growth). Second, the level of detail afforded by the digital high spatial resolution aerial imagery provides critical calibration and validation data for lower spatial resolution remotely sensed imagery (e.g., QuickBird, Landsat) for large-area detection and mapping of forest damage and can be used in a double sampling scheme as a bridge between detailed field measures and landscape-level estimates of mortality. In an era with increasing numbers of commercially deployed sensors capable of acquiring high spatial resolution satellite imagery, the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of aerial image options should not be disregarded. Moreover, experiences with airborne imagery can continue to inform applications using high spatial resolution satellite imagery for forest health information needs.