Sustainable forest management relies on the acquisition of timely (change detection) and accurate structural information of forest landscapes. Light detection and ranging (lidar) remote sensing platforms enable rapid, three-dimensional (3-D), structural data collection with a high spatial resolution. This study explores a functional carbon model applied to a dense, closed deciduous forest. Data are collected by manned airborne systems and unmanned aerial system, producing both lidar and structure-from-motion (SfM) 3-D mapping. A hybrid approach combining cost-effective SfM-generated data with lidar-derived digital elevation models also is explored, since the SfM fails to produce adequate terrain returns. Carbon modeling results are comparable to those achieved by the initial developers (r2 ¼ 0.64 versus r2 ¼ 0.72), despite the challenging uneven-aged forest environment. Vertical profiles, mapped utilizing a volumetric point density from the manned airborne lidar, are leveraged to train a binary classifier for disturbance detection. Producer’s accuracy, user’s accuracy, and Kappa statistic for disturbance detection are 94.1%, 92.2%, and 89.8%, respectively, showing a high likelihood of detecting disturbances (harvesting). The results bode well for the use of unmanned aerial system (UAS) systems, and either lidar or SfM, to assess forest stocking. Although disturbance detection is successful, further study is required to validate the use of UAS, and especially SfM, for this task.

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Copyright 2019 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited."

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Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus