LiDAR as a tool in site section for timber cruising

My name is Lorraine Brown, I have been working toward my Bachelor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at Selkirk College since 2009 when I took Integrated Environmental Planning. I really liked the GIS classes and the capability of computer modelling, detailed analysis and the artistic aspect of cartography.

This is a guest post by Lorraine Brown in our Bachelor's of GIS Blog Series

In 2013, I took the Advanced Diploma in GIS and had the opportunity to work as a Co‑op with the SaskPower in Regina for one year. I knew I had to finish my bachelor’s degree after “life events” changed my educational career path slightly. Now I am wrapping up my studies and forming my thesis report. My thesis project is called: LiDAR as a tool in site selection for timber cruising: Identification of tree stand types based on genera conifer or deciduous using LiDAR and spectral analysis.

Figure 1: A segment of the LiDAR point cloud displayed with the Fusion software.

What this means is, I was using LiDAR point-cloud over a forested area to find out what is on the land, more specifically to identify trees that can be used for logging based on their specie: genera conifer or deciduous and the height. First, I have used a programming script (using R and Fusion software) and LiDAR data to create a canopy height model that extract heights of the trees with respect to the ground. Then the script was developed to find tree tops and the crown boundaries based on the. Ortho-photography was used to train the computer to learn what each pixel in the photo is based on an algorithm called “RandomForest classification”. Within my study area, I have mainly focused to find genera conifer and deciduous. Once the “classification” is completed the crown boundaries and the assigned species types were analyzed to select taller trees with specific species. Although, I haven’t had ground truth data for accuracy assessment, I have assessed my results based on expert knowledge and visually. In conclusion, I can say that my script  can be used to automate the site selection for timber cruising. This has been an amazing project to work on, I have used my research, advanced GIS analysis, scripting and technical communications skills that I acquired throughout the great hands on education that I received at Selkirk College.

Figure 2(a): LiDAR derived crown boundaries of 30 meters greater with the randomForest classified image results.

Figure 2(b): Deciduous classed image results showing areas of large grouping of deciduous trees.