Estimation of standing wood volume and species composition in managed nemoral multi-layer mixed forests by using nearest neighbour classifier, multispectral satellite images and airborne lidar data / Puistute liigilise koosseisu ja tüvemahu hindamine k-lähima naabri meetodil mitmerindelistes majandatavates segametsades

Mait Lang 1 , 2 , Tauri Arumäe 2 , Tõnu Lükk 1 , 2 ,  and Allan Sims 2
  • 1 Tartu Observatory, 61602 Tõravere, Tartumaa, Estonia
  • 2 Institute of Forestry and Rural Engineering, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreutzwaldi 5, Tartu 51014, Estonia

Abstract.

Nearest neighbour techniques are useful for constructing maps of forest inventory variables based on sample plot and auxiliary data from remote sensing. The most problematic issue of the nearest neighbour technique is possible systematic bias in the estimated values. In this study a 15 by 15 km test site in nemoral multilayer mixed forests was established in Laeva, Estonia. A set of 444 circular sample plots was used as reference set. Airborne lidar data and Landsat-8 Operational Land Imager image were used to construct five different feature variable sets consisting of original variables and alternatively principal components. The response variables were wood volume of first tree layer, wood volume of the second tree layer and main species code. A special test was carried out where a substantial amount of Silver birch dominated plots were removed from the reference set. The wood volume prediction validation was carried out on 89 forest growth sample plots and on 2290 forest stands. Species composition prediction was validated on 986 forest stands. As in many previous studies the results confirmed superiority of airborne lidar variables over spectral variables for wood volume estimation. The first three principal components of airborne lidar variables and first five principal components of all possible original feature variables contained over 99% of the information and performed well in imputations. The imputed wood volume at small values was overestimated and underestimated at large values regardless of used reference set. The feature variable sets containing spectral data performed better for species composition imputation. There was a forest age dependent discrepancy in predicted species proportions: birch and spruce proportions were underestimated in young stands and overestimated in older stands while proportion of aspen had exactly the opposite errors. The lack of fit depended slightly on the feature variable sets. The birch dominated plot partial removal from the reference set changed the predicted proportion of species but did not remove the forest age dependent lack of fit. The result can be important for the studies in which bootstrap samples are used to estimate error statistics for nearest neighbour technique based forest inventory variable maps.

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