Research article

Estimation of the mean tree height of forest stands by photogrammetric measurement using digital aerial images of high spatial resolution

Ivan Balenović , Ante Seletković, Renata Pernar, Anamarija Jazbec

Ivan Balenović
Croatian Forest Research Institute,Zagreb, Croatia. Email: ivanb@sumins.hr
Ante Seletković
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Forestry, Zagreb, Croatia
Renata Pernar
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Forestry, Zagreb, Croatia
Anamarija Jazbec
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Forestry, Zagreb, Croatia

Online First: January 30, 2015
Balenović, I., Seletković, A., Pernar, R., Jazbec, A. 2015. Estimation of the mean tree height of forest stands by photogrammetric measurement using digital aerial images of high spatial resolution. Annals of Forest Research DOI:10.15287/afr.2015.300


Tree height is one of the more fundamental measurements in forest inventories. In addition to classical field measurements, tree height may be estimated by remote sensing methods, such as by photogrammetric measurements of aerial images. Since it has been found and generally accepted that the extraction of forest and tree data from classical analogue aerial photographs has certain limitations, especially in the densely canopied forests, the usefulness of photogrammetric-based forest inventory in many countries remains a controversial issue. Therefore, this paper focuses on investigating the possibility of applying digital photogrammetric method to estimate mean stand height. Photogrammetric stereo-measurements of tree height were conducted on colour infrared images of high spatial resolution (ground sample distance – GSD – of 30 cm and 10 cm) using a digital photogrammetric workstation. The height of each tree within 183 sample plots (14 subcompartments) were calculated as the difference between the tree top elevations determined with the aerial images and the corresponding tree bottom elevations determined from the digital terrain model. To compare the photogrammetric- and field-estimated mean stand heights, the mean plot heights were calculated for both photogrammetric and field estimates of tree heights. Repeated measurements using ANOVA testing did not reveal a statistically significant difference (p > 0.05) between the field-estimated and photogrammetric-estimated mean stand heights using the 30 cm and 10 cm GSD digital aerial images. Deviations of the mean stand heights estimated using the images of both spatial resolutions were similar to the field-estimated heights. Using the 30 cm images the deviations of the photogrammetrically estimated mean stand height amounted to 0.35 m (1.59%) on average, whereas using the 10 cm images the deviations amounted to 0.31 m (1.41%) compared to the field estimation. Therefore, it can be concluded that the 30 cm GSD aerial images allow for the photogrammetric measurement of mean stand heights with accuracy similar to 10 cm GSD aerial images. In addition, 30 cm GSD aerial images are more favourable financially since the same area of interest could be covered with a considerably smaller number of images than of the 10 cm GSD aerial images.


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  • Ivan Balenović
  • Ante Seletković
  • Renata Pernar
  • Anamarija Jazbec
  • Ivan Balenović
  • Ante Seletković
  • Renata Pernar
  • Anamarija Jazbec