Johannes Schumacher

Research Scientist

(+47) 407 23 321

Ås H8

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås


Background The Norwegian forest resource map (SR16) maps forest attributes by combining national forest inventory (NFI), airborne laser scanning (ALS) and other remotely sensed data. While the ALS data were acquired over a time interval of 10 years using various sensors and settings, the NFI data are continuously collected. Aims of this study were to analyze the effects of stratification on models linking remotely sensed and field data, and assess the accuracy overall and at the ALS project level. Materials and methods The model dataset consisted of 9203 NFI field plots and data from 367 ALS projects, covering 17 Mha and 2/3 of the productive forest in Norway. Mixed-effects regression models were used to account for differences among ALS projects. Two types of stratification were used to fit models: 1) stratification by the three main tree species groups spruce, pine and deciduous resulted in species-specific models that can utilize a satellite-based species map for improving predictions, and 2) stratification by species and maturity class resulted in stratum-specific models that can be used in forest management inventories where each stand regularly is visually stratified accordingly. Stratified models were compared to general models that were fit without stratifying the data. Results The species-specific models had relative root-mean-squared errors (RMSEs) of 35%, 34%, 31%, and 12% for volume, aboveground biomass, basal area, and Lorey’s height, respectively. These RMSEs were 2–7 percentage points (pp) smaller than those of general models. When validating using predicted species, RMSEs were 0–4 pp. smaller than those of general models. Models stratified by main species and maturity class further improved RMSEs compared to species-specific models by up to 1.8 pp. Using mixed-effects models over ordinary least squares models resulted in a decrease of RMSE for timber volume of 1.0–3.9 pp., depending on the main tree species. RMSEs for timber volume ranged between 19%–59% among individual ALS projects. Conclusions The stratification by tree species considerably improved models of forest structural variables. A further stratification by maturity class improved these models only moderately. The accuracy of the models utilized in SR16 were within the range reported from other ALS-based forest inventories, but local variations are apparent.


Background The age of forest stands is critical information for forest management and conservation, for example for growth modelling, timing of management activities and harvesting, or decisions about protection areas. However, area-wide information about forest stand age often does not exist. In this study, we developed regression models for large-scale area-wide prediction of age in Norwegian forests. For model development we used more than 4800 plots of the Norwegian National Forest Inventory (NFI) distributed over Norway between latitudes 58° and 65° N in an 18.2 Mha study area. Predictor variables were based on airborne laser scanning (ALS), Sentinel-2, and existing public map data. We performed model validation on an independent data set consisting of 63 spruce stands with known age. Results The best modelling strategy was to fit independent linear regression models to each observed site index (SI) level and using a SI prediction map in the application of the models. The most important predictor variable was an upper percentile of the ALS heights, and root mean squared errors (RMSEs) ranged between 3 and 31 years (6% to 26%) for SI-specific models, and 21 years (25%) on average. Mean deviance (MD) ranged between − 1 and 3 years. The models improved with increasing SI and the RMSEs were largest for low SI stands older than 100 years. Using a mapped SI, which is required for practical applications, RMSE and MD on plot level ranged from 19 to 56 years (29% to 53%), and 5 to 37 years (5% to 31%), respectively. For the validation stands, the RMSE and MD were 12 (22%) and 2 years (3%), respectively. Conclusions Tree height estimated from airborne laser scanning and predicted site index were the most important variables in the models describing age. Overall, we obtained good results, especially for stands with high SI. The models could be considered for practical applications, although we see considerable potential for improvements if better SI maps were available.


Nation-wide Sentinel-2 mosaics were used with National Forest Inventory (NFI) plot data for modelling and subsequent mapping of spruce-, pine-, and deciduous-dominated forest in Norway at a 16 m × 16 m resolution. The accuracies of the best model ranged between 74% for spruce and 87% for deciduous forest. An overall accuracy of 90% was found on stand level using independent data from more than 42 000 stands. Errors mostly resulting from a forest mask reduced the model accuracies by ∼10%. The produced map was subsequently used to generate model-assisted (MA) and poststratified (PS) estimates of species-specific forest area. At the national level, efficiencies of the estimates increased by 20% to 50% for MA and up to 90% for PS. Greater minimum numbers of observations constrained the use of PS. For MA estimates of municipalities, efficiencies improved by up to a factor of 8 but were sometimes also less than 1. PS estimates were always equally as or more precise than direct and MA estimates but were applicable in fewer municipalities. The tree species prediction map is part of the Norwegian forest resource map and is used, among others, to improve maps of other variables of interest such as timber volume and biomass.

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Multi-temporal Sentinel 2 optical images and 3D photogrammetric point clouds can be combined to enhance the accuracy of timber volume models on large spatial scale. Information on the proportion of broadleaf and conifer trees improves timber volume models obtained from 3D photogrammetric point clouds. However, the broadleaf-conifer information cannot be obtained from photogrammetric point clouds alone. Furthermore, spectral information of aerial images is too inconsistent to be used for automatic broadleaf-conifer classification over larger areas. In this study we combined multi-temporal Sentinel 2 optical satellite images, 3D photogrammetric point clouds from digital aerial stereo photographs, and forest inventory plots representing an area of 35,751 km2 in south-west Germany for (1) modelling the percentage of broadleaf tree volume (BL%) using Sentinel 2 time series and (2) modelling timber volume per hectare using 3D photogrammetric point clouds. Forest inventory plots were surveyed in the same years and regions as stereo photographs were acquired (2013–2017), resulting in 11,554 plots. Sentinel 2 images from 2016 and 2017 were corrected for topographic and atmospheric influences and combined with the same forest inventory plots. Spectral variables from corrected multi-temporal Sentinel 2 images were calculated, and Support VectorMachine (SVM) regressions were fitted for each Sentinel 2 scene estimating the BL% for corresponding inventory plots. Variables from the photogrammetric point clouds were calculated for each inventory plot and a non-linear regression model predicting timber volume per hectare was fitted. Each SVMregression and the timber volume model were evaluated using ten-fold cross-validation (CV). The SVMregression models estimating the BL% per Sentinel 2 scene achieved overall accuracies of 68%–75% and a Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) of 21.5–26.1. The timber volumemodel showed a RMSE% of 31.7%, amean bias of 0.2%, and a pseudo-R2 of 0.64. Application of the SVMregressions on Sentinel 2 scenes covering the state of Baden-Württemberg resulted in predictions of broadleaf tree percentages for the entire state. These predicted values were used as additional predictor in the timber volume model, allowing for predictions of timber volume for the same area. Spatially high-resolution information about growing stock is of great practical relevance for forest management planning, especially when the timber volume of a smaller unit is of interest, for example of a forest stand or a forest districtwhere not enough terrestrial inventory plots are available to make reliable estimations. Here, predictions from remote-sensing based models can be used. Furthermore, information about broadleaf and conifer trees improves timber volume models and reduces model errors and, thereby, prediction uncertainties.