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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Mobile Laser Scanning for Estimating Tree Stem Diameter Using Segmentation and Tree Spine Calibration

Holmgren, Johan; Tulldahl, Michael; Nordlof, Jonas; Willen, Erik; Olsson, Hakan

Abstract

Mobile laser scanning (MLS) could make forest inventories more efficient, by using algorithms that automatically derive tree stem center positions and stem diameters. In this work we present a novel method for calibration of the position for laser returns based on tree spines derived from laser data. A first calibration of positions was made for sequential laser scans and further calibrations of laser returns were possible after segmentation, in which laser returns were associated to individual tree stems. The segmentation made it possible to model tree stem spines (i.e., center line of tree stems). Assumptions of coherent tree spine positions were used for correcting laser return positions on the tree stems, thereby improving estimation of stem profiles (i.e., stem diameters at different heights from the ground level). The method was validated on six 20-m radius field plots. Stem diameters were estimated with a Root-Mean-Square-Error (RMSE) of 1 cm for safely linked trees (maximum link distance of 0.5 m) and with a restriction of a minimum amount of data from height intervals for supporting circle estimates. The accuracy was high for plot level estimates of basal area-weighted mean stem diameter (relative RMSE 3.4%) and basal area (relative RMSE 8.5%) because of little influence of small trees (i.e., aggregation of individual trees). The spine calibration made it possible to derive 3D stem profiles also from 3D laser data calculated from sensor positions with large errors because of disturbed below canopy signals from global navigation satellite systems.

Keywords

tree map; SLAM; forest inventory; personal laser scanner; MLS

Published in

Remote Sensing
2019, Volume: 11, number: 23, article number: 2781
Publisher: MDPI