Canadian Forest Service Publications
Forest Road Status Assessment Using Airborne Laser Scanning. 2019. Waga, K., Tompalski, P., Coops. NC., White, J.C., Wulder, M.A., Malinen, J., Tokola, T. Forest Science, , fxz053
Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 40013
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Forest roads allow access for silvicultural operations, harvesting, recreational activities, wildlife management, and fire suppression. In British Columbia, Canada, roads that are no longer required must be deactivated (temporarily, semipermanently, or permanently) in order to minimize the impact on the overall forested ecosystem. However, the remoteness and size of the road network present challenges for monitoring. Our aim was to examine the utility of airborne laser scanning data to assess the status and quality of forest roads across 52,000 hectares of coastal forest in British Columbia. Within the forest estate, roads can be active or deactivated, or have an unknown status. We classified road segments based on the vegetation growth on the road surface, and edges, by classifying the height distribution of airborne laser scanning returns within each road segment into four groups: no vegetation, minor vegetation, dense understory vegetation, and dense overstory vegetation. Validation indicated that 73 percent of roads were classified correctly when compared to independent field observations. The majority were classified as active roads with no vegetation or deactivated with dense vegetation. The approach presented herein can aid forest managers in verifying the status of the roads in their management area, especially in remote areas where field assessments are costly and time-consuming.
Plain Language Summary
Forest roads allow access for silviculture and harvesting forest operations as well as providing access for recreational users and emergency vehicles. British Columbia has a large amount of remote public forests and the forest road network is extent, therefore their assessment is challenging. The aim of this study was to examine the utility of airborne laser scanning data to assess the status and quality of forest roads in forested landscapes. This approach offers a technique to potentially help forest managers verify whether roads are active or deactivated, especially in remote areas where field assessments are costly and time-consuming.