Measuring tree diameter through photogrammetry using mobile phone cameras
- Tree inventories are a cornerstone of forest science and management. Inventories are essential for quantifying forest growth rates, determining biomass and carbon stock accumulation, assessing species diversity, and evaluating impacts of both forest management and climate change. Recent advances in digital sensing technologies on mobile phones have the potential to improve traditional forest inventories through increased efficiency in measurement and transcription, and through potentially increasing participation in data collection by non-experts. However, the degree to which digital sensing tools (e.g. smartphone applications) can accurately determine the tree parameters measured during forest inventories remains unclear. In this study, we assess the ability of a smartphone application to perform a user-assisted tree inventory, and compare digital estimates of tree diameter to measurements made using traditional forestry field sampling approaches. Results suggest that digital sensing tools on mobile phones can accurately measure tree diameter (R2 = 0.95; RMSE = 2.7 cm compared to manual measurements), while saving time during both the data collection stage and data entry stage of field sampling. Importantly, we compare measurements of the same tree across users of the phone application in order to determine the per-user, per-tree, and per-species uncertainty. Results suggest that digital technologies have the potential to facilitate efficient collection of high-quality and auditable data, collected by non-experts, but with some important limitations compared to traditional tree measurement approaches. High quality, broadly accessible, and efficient field data collected through mobile phones can in turn improve our understanding of tree growth and biomass accumulation, and the key factors (e.g. climate change or management practices) that affect these processes. Thus, accurate and usable digital tree inventory tools that can be broadly accessible stand to advance forest science and management.
|Type of resource
|mixed material, Dataset
|May 23, 2023
|May 23, 2023; May 23, 2023
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- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY).
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