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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Artificial intelligence-based software (AID-FOREST) for tree detection: A new framework for fast and accurate forest inventorying using LiDAR point clouds

Lopez Serrano, F. R.; Rubio, E.; Garcia Morote, F. A.; Andres Abellan, M.; Picazo Cordoba, M., I; Garcia Saucedo, F.; Martinez Garcia, E.; Sanchez Garcia, J. M.; Serena Innerarity, J.; Carrasco Lucas, L.; Garcia Gonzalez, O.; Garcia Gonzalez, J. C.


Forest inventories are essential to accurately estimate different dendrometric and forest stand parameters. However, classical forest inventories are time consuming, slow to conduct, sometimes inaccurate and costly. To address this problem, an efficient alternative approach has been sought and designed that will make this type of field work cheaper, faster, more accurate, and easier to complete. The implementation of this concept has required the development of a specifically designed software called "Artificial Intelligence for Digital Forest (AID-FOREST)", which is able to process point clouds obtained via mobile terrestrial laser scanning (MTLS) and then, to provide an array of multiple useful and accurate dendrometric and forest stand parameters. Singular characteristics of this approach are: No data pre-processing is required either pre-treatment of forest stand; fully automatic process once launched; no limitations by the size of the point cloud file and fast computations.To validate AID-FOREST, results provided by this software were compared against the obtained from in-situ classical forest inventories. To guaranty the soundness and generality of the comparison, different tree spe-cies, plot sizes, and tree densities were measured and analysed. A total of 76 plots (10,887 trees) were selected to conduct both a classic forest inventory reference method and a MTLS (ZEB-HORIZON, Geoslam, ltd.) scanning to obtain point clouds for AID-FOREST processing, known as the MTLS-AIDFOREST method. Thus, we compared the data collected by both methods estimating the average number of trees and diameter at breast height (DBH) for each plot. Moreover, 71 additional individual trees were scanned with MTLS and processed by AID-FOREST and were then felled and divided into logs measuring 1 m in length. This allowed us to accurately measure the DBH, total height, and total volume of the stems.When we compared the results obtained with each methodology, the mean detectability was 97% and ranged from 81.3 to 100%, with a bias (underestimation by MTLS-AIDFOREST method) in the number of trees per plot of 2.8% and a relative root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 9.2%. Species, plot size, and tree density did not significantly affect detectability. However, this parameter was significantly affected by the ecosystem visual complexity index (EVCI). The average DBH per plot was underestimated (but was not significantly different from 0) by the MTLS-AIDFOREST, with the average bias for pooled data being 1.8% with a RMSE of 7.5%. Similarly, there was no statistically significant differences between the two distribution functions of the DBH at the 95.0% confidence level.Regarding the individual tree parameters, MTLS-AIDFOREST underestimated DBH by 0.16 % (RMSE = 5.2 %) and overestimated the stem volume (Vt) by 1.37 % (RMSE = 14.3 %, although the BIAS was not statistically significantly different from 0). However, the MTLS-AIDFOREST method overestimated the total height (Ht) of the trees by a mean 1.33 m (5.1 %; relative RMSE = 11.5 %), because of the different height concepts measured by both methodological approaches. Finally, AID-FOREST required 30 to 66 min per ha-1 to fully automatically process the point cloud data from the *.las file corresponding to a given hectare plot. Thus, applying our MTLS-AIDFOREST methodology to make full forest inventories, required a 57.3 % of the time required to perform classical plot forest inventories (excluding the data postprocessing time in the latter case). A free trial of AID -FOREST can be requested at


Mobile laser scanner; Artificial intelligence; Automatic tree detection; Ecosystem visual complexity index; Tree stem volume; Forest stand parameters

Published in

International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
2022, volume: 113, article number: 103014
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Lopez Serrano, F. R.
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Rubio, E.
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Garcia Morote, F. A.
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Andres Abellan, M.
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Picazo Cordoba, M.
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Garcia Saucedo, F.
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Sanchez Garcia, J.M.
Naturaleza and Tecnol La Mancha SL NATURTEC
Serena Innerarity, J.
Naturaleza and Tecnol La Mancha SL NATURTEC
Carrasco Lucas, L.
Digital Elevat Models DIELMO 3D
Garcia Gonzalez, O.
Digital Elevat Models DIELMO 3D
Garcia Gonzalez, J.C.
Digital Elevat Models DIELMO 3D

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Computer Science

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