Despite the growing impact of remote sensing technology in forest inventories globally, there is a continuous need for ground measurements on sample plots. Even though the newest volume assessment methodology requires fewer sample plots, the accuracy of ground-recorded data influences the final accuracy of forest stand modeling. Therefore, effective and economically justified tools are in the continuous interest of foresters. In the presented research, a consumer-grade light detection and ranging pocket LiDAR sensor mounted on iPad was used for forest inventory sample plot data collection—including tree location and diameter breast height. In contrast to other similar research, feasibility and user-friendliness were also documented and emphasized.
From a research paper by Michael Brach, et al.
The study was conducted in 63 real sample plots used for the inventory of Polish forests. In total, 776 trees were scanned in 3 types of forest stands: pine, birch, and oak. The root mean square error was 0.28 m for tree locations and 0.06 m for diameter breast height.
Various additional analyses were performed to describe the usage of an iPad in tree inventories. It was contended that low-cost LiDAR scanners might be successfully used in real forest conditions and can be considered a reliable and easy-to-implement tool in forest inventory measurements.
The field scanning and data collection via iPad was conducted over two months (October and November 2022). Being the autumn season in Poland, there were no leaves on the first floor of the sample plots. The weather was generally cloudy, with temperatures of around 6 °C and minimal/no wind conditions. The iPad Pro generation 3 (Apple, Cupertino, CA, USA) with iOS 15.6 operating system and 256 GB internal memory was used as the main tool for scanning the sample plots. The device is equipped with a consumer-grade LiDARscanner, which, combined with a high resolution onboard 12 MP RGB camera, allows us to capture three-dimensional objects within the 5 m range.
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