Canadian Forest Service Publications

Estimating Changes in Forest Attributes and Enhancing Growth Projections: a Review of Existing Approaches and Future Directions Using Airborne 3D Point Cloud Data

Year: 2021

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 40638

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Purpose of Review The increasing availability of three-dimensional point clouds, including both airborne laser scanning and digital aerial photogrammetry, allow for the derivation of forest inventory information with a high level of attribute accuracy and spatial detail. When available at two points in time, point cloud datasets offer a rich source of information for detailed analysis of change in forest structure. Recent Findings Existing research across a broad range of forest types has demonstrated that those analyses can be performed using different approaches, levels of detail, or source data. By reviewing the relevant findings, we highlight the potential that biand multi-temporal point clouds have for enhanced analysis of forest growth. We divide the existing approaches into two broad categories— – approaches that focus on estimating change based on predictions of two or more forest inventory attributes over time, and approaches for forecasting forest inventory attributes. We describe how point clouds acquired at two or more points in time can be used for both categories of analysis by comparing input airborne datasets, before discussing the methods that were used, and resulting accuracies. Summary To conclude, we outline outstanding research gaps that require further investigation, including the need for an improved understanding of which three-dimensional datasets can be applied using certain methods. We also discuss the likely implications of these datasets on the expected outcomes, improvements in tree-to-tree matching and analysis, integration with growth simulators, and ultimately, the development of growth models driven entirely with point cloud data.