Impact of local slope and aspect assessed from LiDAR records on tree diameter in radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) plantations
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Reliable information on tree stem diameter variation at local spatial scales and on the factors controlling it could potentially lead to improved biomass estimation over pine plantations.
This study addressed the relationship between local topography and tree diameter at breast height (DBH) within two even-aged radiata pine plantation sites in New South Wales, Australia.
A total of 85 plots were established, and 1,302 trees were sampled from the two sites. Airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) was used to derive slope and aspect and to link them to each individual tree.
The results showed a significant relationship between DBH and local topography factors. At both sites, trees on slopes below 20° and on southerly aspects displayed significantly larger DBHs than trees on steeper slopes and northerly aspects. Older trees with similar heights also exhibited a significant relationship between DBH and aspect factor, where greater DBHs were found on southerly aspects.
The observed correlation between tree DBH and LiDAR-derived slope and aspect could contribute to the development of improved biomass estimation approaches in pine plantations. These topographical variables are easily attained with airborne LiDAR, and they could potentially improve DBH predictions in resource inventories (e.g. stand volume or biomass) and support field sampling design.
KeywordsTopography LiDAR-derived metrics Height classes Canopy height model Digital elevation model Mixed linear models
The authors would like to thank the Forestry Corporation (Forestry Corporation NSW) New South Wales for providing the LiDAR data and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries for the help in conducting the field surveys used in this study. We would like to express our deep graduate to the editors and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper.
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