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Measuring Tree Diameter with Lidar Tablet

photo of forest and measuring tree diameter

Forest owners need simple and efficient tools to capture and understand forest metrics. Additionally, they could benefit from emerging technologies in forest analysis. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors allow for precise measurements of different variables and can be used more easily in forestry settings thanks to their introduction into smartphones and tablets. ForestScanner and Arboreal Forest are two applications (apps) that allow for measuring tree diameter at breast height (DBH) on LiDAR-equipped devices.

From a paper in Forest Science by Noah A. Howard, et al.

Our study sought to analyze and compare (1) the timing of traditional and LiDAR-based forest inventory methods and (2) the accuracy of traditional and LiDAR-based forest measurements. We established a series of plots to record and compare tree DBH and measurement time between a traditional diameter tape, ForestScanner, and Arboreal Forest. We found that DBH measurements from the apps were in good agreement with diameter tape measurements; however, both apps tended to underestimate DBH. Additionally, measurement time for both apps was found to be significantly shorter than traditional tape measurements. Further improvements in LiDAR apps can present a simple and efficient way for future forest analysis by seasoned foresters and private landowners.

Study Implications: LiDAR smartphone applications represent a cost-effective and time-efficient method for wide-spread forest management, especially among landowners who have little access to forestry-specific equipment. As these technologies continue to advance, the incorporation of functions for plot establishment, height measurements, biomass estimations, and ecosystem dynamics could become valuable assets in the forest industry. We encourage individuals to further test LiDAR measurement applications themselves, as further training on these applications will help developers to improve application accuracy.

For the complete article on measuring tree diameter CLICK HERE.

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