Modeling diameter distributions in radiata pine plantations in Spain with existing countrywide LiDAR data

Topical collection: SilviLaser

We evaluated the use of low-density airborne laser scanning data to estimate diameter distributions in radiata pine plantations. The moment-based parameter recovery method was used to estimate the diameter distributions, considering LiDAR metrics as explanatory variables. The fitted models explained more than 77% of the observed variability. This approach can be replicated every 6 years (temporal cover planned for countrywide LiDAR flights in Spain).

Context The estimation of stand diameter distribution is informative for forest managers in terms of stand structure, forest growth model inputs, and economic timber value. In this sense, airborne LiDAR may represent an adequate source of information.
Aims The objective was to evaluate the use of low-density Spanish countrywide LiDAR data for estimating diameter distributions in Pinus radiata D. Don stands in NW Spain.
Methods The empirical distributions were obtained from 25 sample plots. We applied the moment-based parameter recovery method in combination with the Weibull function to estimate the diameter distributions, considering LiDAR metrics as explanatory variables. We evaluated the results by using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov (KS) test and a classification tree and random forest (RF) to relate the KS test result for each plot to stand-level variables.
Results The models used to estimate average (dm) and quadratic (dg) mean diameters from LiDAR metrics, required for recovery of the Weibull parameters, explained a high percentage of the observed variance (77 and 80%, respectively), with RMSE values of 3.626 and 3.422 cm for the same variables. However, the proportion of plots accepted by the KS was low. This poor performance may be due to the strictness of the KS test and/or by the characteristics of the LiDAR flight.
Conclusion The results justify the assessment of this approach over different species and forest types in regional or countrywide surveys.

PNOA (Plan Nacional de Ortofotografía Aérea de España) project, Airborne laser scanning (ALS), Remote sensing, Weibull, Distribution function, Moment-based parameter recovery method

Arias-Rodil, M., Diéguez-Aranda, U., Álvarez-González, J.G. et al. Annals of Forest Science (2018) 75: 36.

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