Automated forest inventory: Analysis of high-density airborne LiDAR point clouds with 3D deep learning

REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT(2024)

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Abstract
Detailed forest inventories are critical for sustainable and flexible management of forest resources, to conserve various ecosystem services. Modern airborne laser scanners deliver high -density point clouds with great potential for fine -scale forest inventory and analysis, but automatically partitioning those point clouds into meaningful entities like individual trees or tree components remains a challenge. The present study aims to fill this gap and introduces a deep learning framework, termed ForAINet, that is able to perform such a segmentation across diverse forest types and geographic regions. From the segmented data, we then derive relevant biophysical parameters of individual trees as well as stands. The system has been tested on FORInstance, a dataset of point clouds that have been acquired in five different countries using surveying drones. The segmentation back -end achieves over 85% F -score for individual trees, respectively over 73% mean IoU across five semantic categories: ground, low vegetation, stems, live branches and dead branches. Building on the segmentation results our pipeline then densely calculates biophysical features of each individual tree (height, crown diameter, crown volume, DBH, and location) and properties per stand (digital terrain model and stand density). Especially crown -related features are in most cases retrieved with high accuracy, whereas the estimates for DBH and location are less reliable, due to the airborne scanning setup.
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Key words
Automated forestry inventory,Individual tree segmentation,High density ALS point cloud,3D semantic segmentation,Individual tree component segmentation
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