Remote sensing tools for the objective quantification of tree structural condition from individual trees to landscape scale assessment

Murray, Jon and Blackburn, George and Whyatt, Duncan and Edwards, Christopher (2018) Remote sensing tools for the objective quantification of tree structural condition from individual trees to landscape scale assessment. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Tree management is the practice of protecting and caring for trees for sustainable, defined objectives. However, there are often conflicts between maintaining trees and the obligation to protect targets, such as people or infrastructure, from the risks associated with the failure of trees and major limbs. Where there are targets worthy of protection, tree structural condition is typically monitored relative to the prescribed management objectives. Traditionally, field methods for capturing data on tree structural condition are manual with a tree surveyor taking very limited direct measurements, and only from parts of the tree that are within reach from the ground. Consequently, large sections of the tree remain unmeasured due to the logistical complications of accessing the aerial structure. Therefore, the surveyor estimates tree part sizes, approximates counts of relevant tree features and uses personal interpretation to infer the significance of the observations. These techniques are temporally and logistically demanding, and largely subjective. This thesis develops solutions to the limitations of traditional methods through the development of remote sensing (RS) tools for assessing tree structural condition, in order to inform tree management interventions. For individual trees, a proximal photogrammetry technique is developed for objectively quantifying tree structural condition by measuring the self-affinity of tree crowns in fractal dimensions. This can identify the individual tree crown complexity along a structural condition continuum, which is more effective than the traditional categorical approach for monitoring tree condition. Moving out in scale, a framework is developed which optimises the matchpairing agreement between ground reference tree data and RS-derived individual tree crown (ITC) delineations in order to quantify the accuracy of different ITC delineation algorithms. The framework is then used to identify an optimal ITC delineation algorithm which is applied to aerial laser scanning data to map individual trees and extract a point cloud for each tree. Metrics are then derived from the point cloud to classify a tree according to its structural condition, a process which is then applied to the tree population across an entire landscape. This provides information with which to spatially optimise tree survey and management resources, improve the decision making process and move towards proactive tree management. The research presented in this thesis develops RS tools for assessing tree structural condition, at a range of investigative scales. These objective, data-rich tools will enable resource-limited tree managers to direct remedial interventions in an optimised and precise way.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
?? lidar, airborne laser scanning, tree assessment, arbor, structural, data classification, data matching, metrics, accuracy, error detection, individual tree crown (itc), delineation ??
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Deposited On:
23 Sep 2019 08:30
Last Modified:
17 Jul 2024 00:39