Extensively damaged trees tested with acoustic tomography considering tree stability in urban greenery


Key message

Damaged area of five tree species was determined by acoustic tomography. Final accuracy of 83% was found as satisfactory and proven suitability for overall tree stability assessment.


Objectives of study were to assess the accuracy and reliability of the acoustic tomography technique for detecting internal structural defects compared to visual assessment on extensively damaged trees of five species in urban greenery. Tomography was realized by Fakopp 3D acoustic tomograph tool. Several types of structural defects were determined, such as heartwood and sapwood decay, internal and lateral cracks, ring shake and hollow. Acoustic tomography inspection revealed correct detection of damage in all disc samples involved in study. Accuracy of damaged area determination reached 90%. Total accuracy determination for both area and location of damage was 83%. Overestimation of damaged area was observed in eight samples, contrary to seven underestimated samples. Difference in estimated false-positive area in comparison to false-negative area was minimal. Irregularity of cross section shape does not affect the final accuracy of tomograph. Accuracy is not influenced by diameter of tree trunk. We determined strong positive correlation between real area of damage and results of tomography (r = 0.75; p = 0.001). Acoustic tomography provides satisfactory accuracy in damage area determination inside tree trunk and for overall tree stability assessment on even extensively damaged trees in urban greenery.

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Supported by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Academy of Sciences—VEGA, Grant Nos. 2/0071/14 and 2/0143/15. Authors thank the Municipality of the city of Nitra for providing wood logs for analysis.

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Correspondence to Radovan Ostrovský.

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Communicated by J. Lin.

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Ostrovský, R., Kobza, M. & Gažo, J. Extensively damaged trees tested with acoustic tomography considering tree stability in urban greenery. Trees 31, 1015–1023 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-017-1526-6

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  • Acoustic tomography
  • Tree stability
  • Visual assessment