Metsanduslikud Uurimused (Dec 2013)

Puittaimestiku kaardistamine aerolidari andmete põhjal metsana lisanduvatel aladel/ Estimation of fractional forest cover from airborne laser scanning data in abandoned agricultural land

  • Mõistus Marta,
  • Lang Mait,
  • Sims Allan

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 59, no. 1
pp. 45 – 58


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The abandonment of agricultural land is an actual problem in Estonia due to significant impact on landscape ecology and structure. Abandoned agricultural fields are usually converting into forest. Mapping of agricultural land use is a strategic interest of each country. Airborne laser scanning (ALS) is used in many countries for topographical mapping and the laser pulse return positions are promising datasets for mapping the abandonment of agricultural land. We used ALS data based woody plant canopy cover estimates made at certain reference height unachievable for field crops to map abandoned agricultural land in nine test sites in Tartumaa, Estonia. The maximum height of trees in test sites ranged from 6.5 m to 13.4 m. The lidar pulse returns based canopy cover estimate was assessed 1) by using ortophoto based digitized maps of tree canopy, 2) repeated measurements made with plant canopy analyzer LAI-2000 and 3) by using allometric crown radius models and repeated tree measurements from sample plots. The interpretation of canopy boundaries and separation of small spaces between tree crowns from ortophotos is a challenging task for an operator. The relationship between ALS based canopy cover and ortophoto based canopy cover was linear in all test sites except when ALS data from beginning of June were used. It the beginning of June foliage is not fully developed on trees. An increase in the woody canopy cover was detected from repeated LAI-2000 measurements and also from repeated tree measurements-based simulated crowns. The impact of reference height change from 2.0 m to 1.3 m on canopy cover estimations was not significant and much smaller compared to the tree growth induced increase in canopy cover, indicating that similar errors originating from e.g. digital elevation model are not problematic for the proposed method in practical applications.