Annals of Forest Science

, Volume 68, Issue 8, pp 1333–1340 | Cite as

Evaluation of estimates of crown condition in forest monitoring: comparison between visual estimation and automated crown image analysis

  • Haruki NakajimaEmail author
  • Atsushi Kume
  • Megumi Ishida
  • Tohru Ohmiya
  • Nobuya Mizoue
Original Paper


• Context

In long-term forest monitoring, tree crown condition has been visually rated to diagnose tree vigor and forest condition. However, visual estimates are subjective. A semiautomatic image analysis system, called CROCO, was developed to estimate crown condition quantitatively. CROCO calculates a DSO value which decrease with increasing crown transparency.

• Aims

This study aims to verify visual estimates objectively using CROCO and to assess characteristics of visual estimates and DSO values by comparing the effectiveness as indicators of radial growth.

• Methods

Crown condition of Abies mariesii was visually rated using a vitality index, and DSO values of the same trees were calculated.

• Results

When the top of the tree was intact, the trees with a higher vitality index showed a significantly higher DSO. Vitality index showed the strongest relationship with DBH increment for 8 years. DSO had a significant relationship with DBH increment by adding information of the crown top condition.

• Conclusion

Analysis of tree crown images is effective to verify visual estimates. Vitality index is a synthetic index involving factors affecting radial growth. DSO could be utilized similarly to vitality index, as an indicator of radial growth, by addition of information on crown size and/or shape.


Crown condition Visual estimation Image analysis CROCO Crown transparency Abies mariesii 



We are grateful to Ms. Yuka Maeda for assistance with the operation of CROCO. Toyama Prefecture and the Toyama District Forest Office granted permission to conduct research on Mt. Tateyama.


This study was supported by Toyama Prefecture and Kyusyu University.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haruki Nakajima
    • 1
    Email author
  • Atsushi Kume
    • 2
  • Megumi Ishida
    • 3
  • Tohru Ohmiya
    • 1
  • Nobuya Mizoue
    • 4
  1. 1.Toyama Prefectural Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries Research CenterForestry Research InstituteTateyama-machiJapan
  2. 2.Ashoro Research Forest, Department of Agro-environmental SciencesKyushu UniversityAshoroJapan
  3. 3.Gifu Field Science Center, Faculty of Applied Biological SciencesGifu UniversityGifuJapan
  4. 4.Department of Agro-environmental SciencesKyushu UniversityHigashi-kuJapan

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