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Suitability of airborne laser scanning for the assessment of forest protection effect against rockfall


Rockfall simulation models are now able to quantify the protective effect of forest with the integration of rock impacts on trees. Those models require spatially explicit forest characteristics which are costly to acquire in operational conditions. The present study compares rockfall simulation results obtained with different forest input data sources: field data with different levels of spatial detail and two methods based on airborne Lidar data. Three different forest stands are tested with several virtual terrain configurations. When rockfall energies are below 200 kJ, the forest protection effect is significant. For higher energies, it also exists but it is minor compared to the effects of topography and rock volume. For all forest input data sources, the estimated rockfall intensity is within −13 and 16 % of the reference value, whereas the frequency is generally overestimated. Both Lidar methods yield a satisfactory forest protection effect evaluation, but single tree detection tends to underestimate it. Improvements are possible regarding the spatial heterogeneity of stem density and the diameter distribution by tree species.

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This work was funded by the European Commission (project Alpine Space 2-3-2-FR NEWFOR) and by the French Ministry of Defence (program RAPID, project ModTer). We thank Éric Mermin, Pascal Tardif, Nathan Daumergue and David Toe for the field data collection.

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Correspondence to Jean-Matthieu Monnet.

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Monnet, JM., Bourrier, F., Dupire, S. et al. Suitability of airborne laser scanning for the assessment of forest protection effect against rockfall. Landslides 14, 299–310 (2017).

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  • Protection forest
  • Rockfall
  • RockyFor3D
  • Airborne laser scanning