Derivation of Forest Functional Parameters Using LiDAR Data

The service specifications for forest monitoring (e.g. degradation from windfall, biotic damage or decrease in crown cover) are based on the needs and requirements defined by the user “Landesforstdirektion-Steiermark/AT”.

The service development, with respect to the impact of forest degradation on selected functional parameters, such as vertical structure, crown coverage or old forest stands, can be considered as an important task in the development of framework guidelines for forestry management strategies and for a sustainable management of forests.

Forestry Management Administrations need detailed, province-level information about the structure and state of the forests, especially in protective forests. Most inventory techniques do not allow the derivation of the spatial (wall to wall) distribution of the various forest function parameters. However, it is exactly this full area coverage, which is needed for many planning procedures and analytical studies.

  1. In a region of 2000 km² the functional parameters to be derived focus on protective functions. A very powerful toolbox has been implemented in the IMPACT software environment which uses information from three different data sources in a synergistic way:
  2. LiDAR (laser-scanning) data - providing 3D structural parameters such as height, crown closure or vertical structure,
  3. existing Core Service products derived either from GEOLAND II  project (LMSC: land monitoring core service) or GIO (GMES Initial Operations) - providing information on tree species distribution,
  4. High resolution RapidEye satellite imagery – providing 5m spatial resolution imagery.

These parameters will be used as status quo products and generates a solid basis for the updating or monitoring process, which is directly related to degradation issues, e.g. windfall, biotic damage or decrease in crown cover. The implemented service enables the automatic derivation of a number of parameters in a cost-effective way. These forest parameters encompass, e.g. tree height, crown cover density, growth classes, crown/canopy volume or information on vertical stand structure.

Derivation of Forest Functional Parameters Using LiDAR Data
Digital surface model, superimposed by segments (yellow) which are automatically derived and dots (red) showing the automatically derived tree tops. The table (lower part) shows some of the forest parameters calculated for each segment in the image.