Current issue: 56(4)
Under compilation: 57(1)
Pathogenic wood decay fungi such as species of Heterobasidion are some of the most serious forest pathogens in Europe, causing rot of tree boles and loss of growth, with estimated economic losses of eight hundred million euros per year. In conifers with low resinous heartwood such as species of Picea and Abies, these fungi are commonly confined to heartwood and thus external infection signs on the bark or foliage of trees are normally absent. Consequently, determining the extent of disease presence in a forest stand with field surveys is not practical for guiding forest management decisions such as optimal rotation time. Remote sensing technologies such as airborne laser scanning and aerial imagery are already used to reduce the reliance on fieldwork in forest inventories. This study aimed to use remote sensing to detect rot in spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.) forests in Norway. An airborne hyperspectral imager provided information for classifying the presence or absence of rot in a single-tree-based framework. Ground reference data showing the presence of rot were collected by harvest machine operators during the harvest of forest stands. Random forest and support vector machine algorithms were used to classify the presence and absence of rot. Results indicate a 64% overall classification accuracy for presence-absence classification of rot, although additional work remains to make the classifications usable for practical forest management.
Tree species composition is an essential attribute in stand-level forest management inventories and remotely sensed data might be useful for its estimation. Previous studies on this topic have had several operational drawbacks, e.g., performance studied at a small scale and at a single tree-level with large fieldwork costs. The current study presents the results from a large-area inventory providing species composition following an operational area-based approach. The study utilizes a combination of airborne laser scanning and hyperspectral data and 97 field sample plots of 250 m2 collected over 350 km2 of productive forest in Norway. The results show that, with the availability of hyperspectral data, species-specific volume proportions can be provided in operational forest management inventories with acceptable results in 90% of the cases at the plot level. Dominant species were classified with an overall accuracy of 91% and a kappa-value of 0.73. Species-specific volumes were estimated with relative root mean square differences of 34%, 87%, and 102% for Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), and deciduous species, respectively. A novel tree-based approach for selecting pixels improved the results compared to a traditional approach based on the normalized difference vegetation index.
Despite the importance of spectral properties of woody tree structures, they are seldom represented in research related to forests, remote sensing, and reflectance modeling. This study presents a novel imaging multiangular measurement set-up that utilizes a mobile handheld hyperspectral camera (Specim IQ, 400–1000 nm), and can measure stem bark spectra in a controlled laboratory setting. We measured multiangular reflectance spectra of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) stem bark, and demonstrated the potential of using bark spectra in identifying tree species using a Support Vector Machine (SVM) based approach. Intraspecific reflectance variability was the lowest in visible (400–700 nm), and the highest in near-infrared (700–1000 nm) wavelength regions. Interspecific variation was the largest in the red, red-edge and near-infrared spectral bands. Spatial variation of reflectance along the tree height and different sides of the stem (north and south) were found. Both birch and pine had increased reflectance in the forward-scattering directions for visible to near-infrared wavelength regions, whilst spruce displayed the same only for the visible wavelength region. In addition, spruce had increased reflectance in the backward-scattering directions. In spite of the intraspecific variations, SVM could identify tree species with 88.8% overall accuracy when using pixel-specific spectra, and with 97.2% overall accuracy when using mean spectra per image. Based on our results it is possible to identify common boreal tree species based on their stem bark spectra using images from mobile hyperspectral cameras.
Remote sensing using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) -borne sensors is currently a highly interesting approach for the estimation of forest characteristics. 3D remote sensing data from airborne laser scanning or digital stereo photogrammetry enable highly accurate estimation of forest variables related to the volume of growing stock and dimension of the trees, whereas recognition of tree species dominance and proportion of different tree species has been a major complication in remote sensing-based estimation of stand variables. In this study the use of UAV-borne hyperspectral imagery was examined in combination with a high-resolution photogrammetric canopy height model in estimating forest variables of 298 sample plots. Data were captured from eleven separate test sites under weather conditions varying from sunny to cloudy and partially cloudy. Both calibrated hyperspectral reflectance images and uncalibrated imagery were tested in combination with a canopy height model based on RGB camera imagery using the k-nearest neighbour estimation method. The results indicate that this data combination allows accurate estimation of stand volume, mean height and diameter: the best relative RMSE values for those variables were 22.7%, 7.4% and 14.7%, respectively. In estimating volume and dimension-related variables, the use of a calibrated image mosaic did not bring significant improvement in the results. In estimating the volumes of individual tree species, the use of calibrated hyperspectral imagery generally brought marked improvement in the estimation accuracy; the best relative RMSE values for the volumes for pine, spruce, larch and broadleaved trees were 34.5%, 57.2%, 45.7% and 42.0%, respectively.
Spectral mixture analysis was used to estimate the contribution of woody elements to tree level reflectance from airborne hyperspectral data in boreal forest stands in Finland. Knowledge of the contribution of woody elements to tree or forest reflectance is important in the context of lea area index (LAI) estimation and, e.g., in the estimation of defoliation due to insect outbreaks, from remote sensing data. Field measurements from four Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), five Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and four birch (Betula pendula Roth and Betula pubescens Ehrh.) dominated plots, spectral measurements of needles, leaves, bark, and forest floor, airborne hyperspectral as well as airborne laser scanning data were used together with a physically-based forest reflectance model. We compared the results based on simple linear combinations of measured bark and needle/leaf spectra to those obtained by accounting for multiple scattering of radiation within the canopy using a physically-based forest reflectance model. The contribution of forest floor to reflectance was additionally considered. The resulted mean woody element contribution estimates varied from 0.140 to 0.186 for Scots pine, from 0.116 to 0.196 for birches and from 0.090 to 0.095 for Norway spruce, depending on the model used. The contribution of woody elements to tree reflectance had a weak connection to plot level forest variables.