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Estimating tree stem diameters and volume from smartphone photogrammetric point clouds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-429
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Methods for the three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of forest trees have been suggested for data fromactive and passive sensors. Laser scanner technologies have become popular in the last few years, despite their high costs. Since the improvements in photogrammetric algorithms (e.g. structure from motion-SfM), photographs have become a new low-cost source of 3D point clouds. In this study, we use images captured by a smartphone camera to calculate dense point clouds of a forest plot using SfM. Eighteen point clouds were produced by changing the densification parameters (Image scale, Point density, Minimum number of matches) in order to investigate their influence on the quality of the point clouds produced. In order to estimate diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) and stem volumes, we developed an automatic method that extracts the stems from the point cloud and then models them with cylinders. The results show that Image scale is the most influential parameter in terms of identifying and extracting trees from the point clouds. The best performance with cylinder modelling from point clouds compared to field data had an RMSE of 1.9 cm and 0.094m3, for d.b.h. and volume, respectively. Thus, for forest management and planning purposes, it is possible to use our photogrammetric and modelling methods to measure d.b.h., stem volume and possibly other forest inventory metrics, rapidly and without felling trees. The proposed methodology significantly reduces working time in the field, using 'nonprofessional' instruments and automating estimates of dendrometric parameters.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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Field of science, Statistics Finland

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