Current issue: 53(4)
Optical 2D remote sensing techniques such as aerial photographing and satellite imaging have been used in forest inventory for a long time. During the last 15 years, airborne laser scanning (ALS) has been adopted in many countries for the estimation of forest attributes at stand and sub-stand levels. Compared to optical remote sensing data sources, ALS data are particularly well-suited for the estimation of forest attributes related to the physical dimensions of trees due to its 3D information. Similar to ALS, it is possible to derive a 3D forest canopy model based on aerial imagery using digital aerial photogrammetry. In this study, we compared the accuracy and spatial characteristics of 2D satellite and aerial imagery as well as 3D ALS and photogrammetric remote sensing data in the estimation of forest inventory variables using k-NN imputation and 2469 National Forest Inventory (NFI) sample plots in a study area covering approximately 5800 km2. Both 2D data were very close to each other in terms of accuracy, as were both the 3D materials. On the other hand, the difference between the 2D and 3D materials was very clear. The 3D data produce a map where the hotspots of volume, for instance, are much clearer than with 2D remote sensing imagery. The spatial correlation in the map produced with 2D data shows a lower short-range correlation, but the correlations approach the same level after 200 meters. The difference may be of importance, for instance, when analyzing the efficiency of different sampling designs and when estimating harvesting potential.