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An Integrated System for Estimating Forest Basal Area from Spherical Images

Haozhou Wang, John A. Kershaw, Ting-Ru Yang, Yung-Han Hsu, Xu Ma, Yingbing Chen


Basal area is one of the most important parameters in forest inventory, but data collection by traditional methods is often time consuming and labor intensive. This study uses a new, portable, and relatively inexpensive 360° spherical camera to estimate stand basal area and make permanent digital forest visual records. Forty-five plots in Newfoundland and eighty-three plots in New Brunswick were used to compare traditional field inventory with spherical photo inventory and to analyze potential factors impacting results. Results showed that 1) photo estimated basal area is similar to traditional methods measured by diameter tape and fixed-area plots or by angle gauge counting; 2) better accuracy and precision can be achieved when adding multiple digital sample locations to avoid effects of hidden trees caused by nearby trunks; 3) understory tree and shrub density did not significantly influence stem visibility; and 4) differences among different users were tested and shown to not be significant. An open-source software package was developed to make the implementation of our technique easy and efficient.


panorama images; digital camera; forest inventory; remote sensing; horizontal point sampling

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