A forestry GIS-based study on evaluating the potential of imaging spectroscopy in mapping forest land fertility

Matti Mõttus, Tuure Takala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Fertility, or the availability of nutrients and water, controls forest productivity. It affects its carbon sequestration, and thus the forest's effect on climate, as well as its commercial value. Although the availability of nutrients cannot be measured directly using remote sensing methods, fertility alters several vegetation traits detectable from the reflectance spectra of the forest stand, including its pigment content and water stress. However, forest reflectance is also influenced by other factors, such as species composition and stand age. Here, we present a case study demonstrating how data obtained using imaging spectroscopy is correlated with site fertility. The study was carried out in Hyytiälä, Finland, in the southern boreal forest zone. We used a database of state-owned forest stands including basic forestry variables and a site fertility index. To test the suitability of imaging spectroscopy with different spatial and spectral resolutions for site fertility mapping, we performed two airborne acquisitions using different sensor configurations. First, the sensor was flown at a high altitude with high spectral resolution resulting in a pixel size in the order of a tree crown. Next, the same area was flown to provide reflectance data with sub-meter spatial resolution. However, to maintain usable signal-to-noise ratios, several spectral channels inside the sensor were combined, thus reducing spectral resolution. We correlated a number of narrowband vegetation indices (describing canopy biochemical composition, structure, and photosynthetic activity) on site fertility. Overall, site fertility had a significant influence on the vegetation indices but the strength of the correlation depended on dominant species. We found that high spatial resolution data calculated from the spectra of sunlit parts of tree crowns had the strongest correlation with site fertility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-311
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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