Predicting forest inventory attributes using airborne laser scanning, aerial imagery, and harvester data

Atte Saukkola, Timo Melkas (Corresponding Author), Kirsi Riekki, Sanna Sirparanta, Jussi Peuhkurinen, Markus Holopainen, Juha Hyyppä, Mikko Vastaranta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the study was to develop a new method to use tree stem information recorded by harvesters along operative logging in remote sensing-based prediction of forest inventory attributes in mature stands. The reference sample plots were formed from harvester data, using two different tree positions: harvester positions (XYH) in global satellite navigation system and computationally improved harvester head positions (XYHH). Study materials consisted of 158 mature Norway-spruce-dominated stands located in Southern Finland that were clear-cut during 2015-16. Tree attributes were derived from the stem dimensions recorded by the harvester. The forest inventory attributes were compiled for both stands and sample plots generated for stands for four different sample plot sizes (254, 509, 761, and 1018 m2). Prediction models between the harvester-based forest inventory attributes and remote sensing features of sample plots were developed. The stand-level predictions were obtained, and basal-area weighted mean diameter (Dg) and basal-area weighted mean height (Hg) were nearly constant for all model alternatives with relative root-mean-square errors (RMSE) roughly 10-11% and 6-8%, respectively, and minor biases. For basal area (G) and volume (V), using either of the position methods, resulted in roughly similar predictions at best, with approximately 25% relative RMSE and 15% bias. With XYHH positions, the predictions of G and V were nearly independent of the sample plot size within 254-761 m2. Therefore, the harvester-based data can be used as ground truth for remote sensing forest inventory methods. In predicting the forest inventory attributes, it is advisable to utilize harvester head positions (XYHH) and a smallest plot size of 254 m2. Instead, if only harvester positions (XYH) are available, expanding the sample plot size to 761 m2 reaches a similar accuracy to that obtained using XYHH positions, as the larger sample plot moderates the uncertainties when determining the individual tree position.

Original languageEnglish
Article number797
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cut-to-length (CTL) harvester
  • Forest planning
  • K-Most similar neighbor
  • LiDAR
  • Tree positioning
  • Wood procurement


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