Canadian Forest Service Publications

Extending ALS-Based Mapping of Forest Attributes with Medium Resolution Satellite and Environmental Data. 2019. Luther,Joan E. ; Fournier, Richard A.; van Lier, Olivier R.; Bujold, Mélodie. Remote Sensing. Volume 11, Issue 9

Year: 2019

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39962

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.3390/rs11091092

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Abstract

Airborne laser scanner (ALS) data are used to map a range of forest inventory attributesat operational scales. However, when wall-to-wall ALS coverage is cost prohibitive or logistically challenging, alternative approaches are needed for forest mapping. We evaluated an indirect approach for extending ALS-based maps of forest attributes using medium resolution satellite and environmental data. First, we developed ALS-based models and predicted a suite of forest attributes for a 950 km2 study area covered by wall-to-wall ALS data. Then, we used samples extracted from the ALS-based predictions to model and map these attributes with satellite and environmental data for an extended 5600 km2 area with similar forest and ecological conditions. All attributes were predicted well with the ALS data (R2 ≥ 0.83; RMSD% < 26). The satellite and environmental models developed using the ALS-based predictions resulted in increased correspondence between observed and predicted values by 13–49% and decreased prediction errors by 8–28% compared with models developed directly with the ground plots. Improvements were observed for both multiple regression and random forest models, and for the suite of forest attributes assessed. We concluded that the use of ALS-based predictions in this study improved the estimation of forest attributes beyond an approach linking ground plots directly to the satellite and environmental data.

Plain Language Summary

The success of airborne laser scanner (ALS) data for predicting forest attributes has resulted in ALS data becoming a key data source for enhancing forest management inventories. However, ALS data acquisition is not always possible for an entire area of interest due to limited resources or difficulties associated with covering remote or large areas. This paper assesses the capability to extend ALS-based mapping of forest attributes using medium resolution satellite and environmental data. The paper quantifies statistical relationships between ALS data and forest attributes measured at field plots and demonstrates the predictive capacity of ALS data to map forest attributes for an area covered by wall-to-all ALS data. The paper further uses samples extracted from the ALS-based predictions to model and map forest attributes with satellite and environmental data for an extended area with similar forest and ecological conditions. The results demonstrate improved estimation of forest attributes using the ALS-based samples beyond an approach linking ground plots directly to the satellite and environmental data for an area of coniferous-dominated forests of western Newfoundland, Canada.