Research papers

Comparison of TLS against traditional surveying method for stem taper modelling. A case study in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests of mount Amiata


Traditionally, taper equations are developed from measurements collected through a destructive sampling of trees. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) enables high levels of accuracy of individual tree parameters measurement avoiding tree felling. With this study, we wanted to assess the performance of two approaches to calibrate a taper function: using stem diameters extracted from TLS point clouds and measured at different tree heights with the traditional and usual forest instruments. We compared the performance of four taper equations built with data collected by TLS and traditional survey in a European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests of mount Amiata (Tuscany Region, Italy). We computed the volume of stem sections 1.00 m long by integrating the most performing TLS-based taper equation and by the Huber, Smalian and cone formulas  applied on the diameter and height values measured with the traditional field surveys. We conducted the analysis of error distribution in volume estimates computed integrating the most performing TLS-based taper function along the stem. We tested if the differences in the volume estimate of the two methods were significant. Schumacher and Hall (1933) equation was the most performing taper function both in case of using TLS and traditional surveyed data , being the TLS-based function more performant (rRMSE = 9.17% vs 6.90%). Its performance did not increase when diameter values were extracted from TLS point clouds with a higher frequency (i.e. 25.0 cm vs 1.00 m). By integrating the TLS-based Schumacher and Hall (1933) function, the sections with the highest error resulted from 5.00 to 7.00 m of stem height (i.e. RMSE from 14.72 to 19.14 dm3 and rRMSE from 13.00 to 17.76%). This study case represents the first attempts to develop a taper equation for European beech of mount Amiata using values of stem diameter and height extracted from the TLS point cloud. The results demonstrated that TLS produces the same stem volume estimates as traditional method avoiding falling trees.


Terrestrial Laser Scanner, Log Stem Volume; Wood Assortments; Taper Function

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