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PUBLICATION NOTICE: Estimating Forest Parameters Using Ground-Based Techniques with Implications for Airborne Data

US Army Engineer Research and Development Center
Published July 31, 2019

The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center has published the report/note described and linked below. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

Report Number:



Estimating Forest Parameters Using Ground-Based Techniques with Implications for Airborne Data


Nancy E. Parker, Simone S. Whitecloud, Komi S. Messan, Brian G. Quinn, Holly H. Vermeulen, Sally A. Shoop, and Carissa F. Aoki


Understanding forest structure and composition is critical to plan and execute troop and equipment movement in forested environments. This is especially important and challenging in denied (limited operational capability due to adversary control) areas. Existing mobility models do not adequately account for the heterogeneity (e.g., tree spacing, tree height, species, etc.) of forests. Knowledge of forest metrics over large scales has long posed a challenge within the forestry community. Previously, researchers have used ground-based and overhead remotely sensed data to attempt to quantify forest properties. But these methods have not produced the level of detail required for tactical mobility modeling. Here we examine two of the forest properties critical to mobility (stem spacing and diameter) and review existing techniques to quantify these properties both in the field and remotely. From this review, we identify tree spacing as the key forest parameter that current methods cannot adequately estimate. To address this, we created two models using ground-based data to estimate tree spacing in forest plots. Using modeled relationships, it may be possible to extrapolate this critical forest parameter from aerial data. This report reviews past research, evaluates the ability to model forest density and tree spacing, and recommends a direction for future work.

38 pgs / 1.68 MB


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