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UAS Imagery-Based Mapping of Coarse Wood Debris in a Natural Deciduous Forest in Central Germany (Hainich National Park)

Thiel, Christian and Müller, Marlin and Epple, Lea and Thau, Christian and Hese, Sören and Michael, Voltersen and Andreas, Henkel (2020) UAS Imagery-Based Mapping of Coarse Wood Debris in a Natural Deciduous Forest in Central Germany (Hainich National Park). Remote Sensing. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). doi: 10.3390/rs12203293. ISSN 2072-4292.

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Dead wood such as coarse dead wood debris (CWD) is an important component in natural forests since it increases the diversity of plants, fungi, and animals. It serves as habitat, provides nutrients and is conducive to forest regeneration, ecosystem stabilization and soil protection. In commercially operated forests, dead wood is often unwanted as it can act as originator of calamities. Accordingly, efficient CWD monitoring approaches are needed. However, due to the small size of CWD objects satellite data-based approaches cannot be used to gather the needed information and conventional ground-based methods are expensive. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are becoming increasingly important in the forestry sector since structural and spectral features of forest stands can be extracted from the high geometric resolution data they produce. As such, they hold a great potential in supporting regular forest monitoring and inventory. Consequently, the potential of UAS imagery to map CWD is investigated in this study. The study area is located in the center of the Hainich National Park (HNP) in the federal state of Thuringia, Germany. The HNP features natural and unmanaged forest comprising deciduous tree species such as Fagus sylvatica (beech), Fraxinus excelsior (ash), Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple), and Carpinus betulus (hornbeam). The flight campaign was controlled from the Hainich eddy covariance flux tower located at the Eastern edge of the test site. RGB image data was captured in March 2019 during leaf-off conditions using off-the-shelf hardware. Agisoft Metashape Pro was used for the delineation of a 3D point cloud, which formed the basis for creating a canopy-free red-green-blue (RGB) orthomosaic and mapping CWD. As heavily decomposed CWD hardly stands out from the ground due to its low height, it might not be detectable by means of 3D geometric information. For this reason, solely RGB data were used for the classification of CWD. The mapping task was accomplished using a line extraction approach developed within the Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA) software eCognition. The achieved CWD detection accuracy can compete with results of studies utilizing high density airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR)-based point clouds. Out of 180 CWD objects, 135 objects were successfully delineated while 76 false alarms occurred. Although the developed OBIA approach only utilizes spectral information, it is important to understand that the 3D information extracted from our UAS data is a key requirement for successful CWD mapping as it provides the foundation for the canopy-free orthomosaic created in an earlier step. We conclude that UAS imagery is an alternative to laser data in particular if rapid update and quick response is required. We conclude that UAS imagery is an alternative to laser data for CWD mapping, especially when a rapid response and quick reaction, e.g. after a storm event, is required.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/139893/
Document Type:Article
Title:UAS Imagery-Based Mapping of Coarse Wood Debris in a Natural Deciduous Forest in Central Germany (Hainich National Park)
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Thiel, ChristianChristian.Thiel (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-5144-8145
Thau, ChristianStadt JenaUNSPECIFIED
Hese, Sörensoeren.hese (at) uni-jena.deUNSPECIFIED
Michael, VoltersenTAMA Group GmbHUNSPECIFIED
Andreas, HenkelHainich National ParkUNSPECIFIED
Date:10 October 2020
Journal or Publication Title:Remote Sensing
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
DOI :10.3390/rs12203293
Publisher:Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Keywords:unmanned aerial system (UAS); RGB; structure from motion (SfM); deciduous forest; coarse dead wood debris (CWD); OBIA; line feature detection; point cloud analysis;
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:other
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R - no assignment
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - no assignment
Location: Jena
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Data Science > Citizen Science
Deposited By: Thiel, Christian
Deposited On:04 Jan 2021 12:32
Last Modified:04 Jan 2021 12:32

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