A crown quantization-based approach to tree-species classification using high-density airborne laser scanning data

A. Harikumar, C. Paris, Francesca Bovolo, Lorenzo Bruzzone

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Crown features derived from high-density airborne laser scanning (ALS) data have proven to be effective for forest species classification at the individual tree level. Most of the general state-of-the-art (SoA) techniques rely on coarse-level crown features extracted from ALS data and under-utilize both the spatial and the spectral information available in the point clouds, Moreover, they are designed on the expected properties of the specific analyzed forest. We present a novel species classification approach, based on quantization of the entire 3-D tree crown into smaller elementary crown volumes (ECVs) that effectively captures the spatial distribution of filled (i.e., stem, branch, and foliage) and empty volumes of crowns. In the first step, a data-driven process dynamically tests and compares three quantization strategies to tailor the definition of the ECV to the forest type (e.g., conifer and deciduous forest). In the second step, for each ECV, a histogram vector is made up of features representing the light detection and ranging (LiDAR) point distribution and intensity to model the internal and the external local crown characteristics. Then, tree histogram feature vectors are obtained by stacking all the ECV histogram feature vectors. Finally, classification is performed by a support vector machine (SVM) classifier using the histogram intersection kernel. All experiments were performed on three high-density (50-200 points/m 2 ) ALS data sets of deciduous, conifer, and mixed (i.e., both deciduous and conifer) trees. The higher classification accuracy of the proposed method over the SoA one proves its ability to better capture the crown characteristics of individual trees, including species-specific traits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4444-4453
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE transactions on geoscience and remote sensing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


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