Assessing the role of digital aerial photogrammetry for characterizing forest structure and enhancing forest inventories
In order to sustainably manage forest resources, a contemporary, dynamic, and consistent description of their state and extent must exist. As well, there is a need for reliable information on the change to the forested land base to support future policy development and to act informatively on new and emerging issues. Experimentation and technological innovation have spurred remote sensing research to better characterize and inventory forests globally. This dissertation examines how, and to what
... extent, digital aerial photogrammetry (DAP) and associated spatial products are capable of informing forest planning and management. Alongside innovation in DAP, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are becoming viable management tools for acquiring stereo-imagery. Fast operationalization, cost-effectiveness, and their ability to acquire high spatial and temporal resolution data sets makes UAS a niche operational inventory tool. To assess the capacity of these technologies, forests of differing stages of structural development, including post-harvest regeneration, and mature managed forest landscapes, were examined. DAP data from these sites were analyzed to determine how, and to what extent, standard and novel inventory attributes can be accurately derived under specific image capture and data model circumstances. I advocate and provide evidence throughout this dissertation that DAP is a technology with ample potential for integration into enhanced forest inventory (EFI) frameworks. This work elaborates on where, and under what conditions, DAP data is successful and limited in characterizing forests with the ultimate goal of improving information for operational, tactical, and strategic decision-making.