Stefano Puliti

Research Scientist

(+47) 936 78 891
stefano.puliti@nibio.no

Place
Ås H8

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås

Abstract

A novel method for age-independent site index estimation is demonstrated using repeated single-tree airborne laser scanning (ALS) data. A spruce-dominated study area of 114 km2 in southern Norway was covered by single-tree ALS twice, i.e. in 2008 and 2014. We identified top height trees wall-to-wall, and for each of them we derived based on the two heights and the 6-year period length. We reconstructed past, annual height growth in a field campaign on 31 sample trees, and this showed good correspondence with ALS based heights. We found a considerable increase in site index, i.e. about 5 m in the H40 system, from the old site index values. This increase corresponded to a productivity increase of 62%. This increase appeared to mainly represent a real temporal trend caused by changing growing conditions. In addition, the increase could partly result from underestimation in old site index values. The method has the advantages of not requiring tree-age data, of representing current growing conditions, and as well that it is a cost-effective method with wall-towall coverage. In slow-growing forests and short time periods, the method is least reliable due to possible systematic differences in canopy penetration between repeated ALS scans.

Abstract

Global Forest Watch (GFW) provides a global map of annual forest cover loss (FCL) produced from Landsat imagery, offering a potentially powerful tool for monitoring changes in forest cover. In managed forests, FCL primarily provides information on commercial harvesting. A semi-autonomous method for providing data on the location and attributes of harvested sites at a landscape level was developed which could significantly improve the basis for catchment management, including risk mitigation. FCL in combination with aerial images was used for detecting and characterising harvested sites in a 1607 km2 mountainous boreal forest catchment in south-central Norway. Firstly, the forest cover loss map was enhanced (FCLE) by removing small isolated forest cover loss patches that had a high probability of representing commission errors. The FCLE map was then used to locate and assess sites representing annual harvesting activity over a 17-year period. Despite an overall accuracy of >98%, a kappa of 0.66 suggested only a moderate quality for detecting harvested sites. While errors of commission were negligible, errors of omission were more considerable and at least partially attributed to the presence of residual seed trees on the site after harvesting. The systematic analysis of harvested sites against aerial images showed a detection rate of 94%, but the area of the individual harvested site was underestimated by 29% on average. None of the site attributes tested, including slope, area, altitude, or site shape index, had any effect on the accuracy of the area estimate. The annual harvest estimate was 0.6% (standard error 12%) of the productive forest area. On average, 96% of the harvest was carried out on flat to moderately steep terrain (<40% slope), 3% on steep terrain (40% to 60% slope), and 1% on very steep terrain (>60% slope). The mean area of FCLE within each slope category was 1.7 ha, 0.9 ha, and 0.5 ha, respectively. The mean FCLE area increased from 1.0 ha to 3.2 ha on flat to moderate terrain over the studied period, while the frequency of harvesting increased from 249 to 495 sites per year. On the steep terrain, 35% of the harvesting was done with cable yarding, and 62% with harvester-forwarder systems. On the very steep terrain (>60% slope), 88% of the area was harvested using cable yarding technology while harvesters and forwarders were used on 12% of the area. Overall, FCL proved to be a useful dataset for the purpose of assessing harvesting activity under the given conditions.

To document

Abstract

Root and butt-rot (RBR) has a significant impact on both the material and economic outcome of timber harvesting, and therewith on the individual forest owner and collectively on the forest and wood processing industries. An accurate recording of the presence of RBR during timber harvesting would enable a mapping of the location and extent of the problem, providing a basis for evaluating spread in a climate anticipated to enhance pathogenic growth in the future. Therefore, a system to automatically identify and detect the presence of RBR would constitute an important contribution in addressing the problem without increasing workload complexity for the machine operator. In this study we developed and evaluated an approach based on RGB images to automatically detect tree-stumps and classify them as to the absence or presence of rot. Furthermore, since knowledge of the extent of RBR is valuable in categorizing logs, we also classify stumps to three classes of infestation; rot = 0%, 0% < rot < 50% and rot >= 50%. In this work we used deep learning approaches and conventional machine learning algorithms for detection and classification tasks. The results showed that tree-stumps were detected with precision rate of 95% and recall of 80%. Using only the correct output (TP) of the stump detector, stumps without and with root and butt-rot were correctly classified with accuracy of 83.5% and 77.5%. Classifying rot to three classes resulted in 79.4%, 72.4% and 74.1% accuracy for stumps with rot = 0%, 0% < rot < 50% and rot >= 50\%, respectively. With some modifications, the algorithm developed could be used either during the harvesting operation to detect RBR regions on the tree-stumps or as a RBR detector for post-harvest assessment of tree-stumps and logs.

Abstract

The objective of this study was to assess the use of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) data for modelling tree density and canopy height in young boreal forests stands. The use of UAV data for such tasks can be beneficial thanks to the high resolution and reduction of the time spent in the field. This study included 29 forest stands, within which 580 clustered plots were measured in the field. An area-based approach was adopted to which random forest models were fitted using the plot data and the corresponding UAV data and then applied and validated at plot and stand level. The results were compared to those of models based on airborne laser scanning (ALS) data and those from a traditional field-assessment. The models based on UAV data showed the smallest stand-level RMSE values for mean height (0.56 m) and tree density (1175 trees ha−1 ). The RMSE of the tree density using UAV data was 50% smaller than what was obtained using ALS data (2355 trees ha−1 ). Overall, this study highlighted that the use of UAVs for the inventory of forest stands under regeneration can be beneficial both because of the high accuracy of the derived data analytics and the time saving compared to traditional field assessments.

Abstract

Uganda designated 16% of its land as Protected Area (PA). The original goal was natural resources, habitat and biodiversity conservation. However, PAs also offer great potential for carbon conservation in the context of climate change mitigation. Drawing on a wall-to-wall map of forest carbon change for the entire Uganda, that was developed using two Digital Elevation Model (DEM) datasets for the period 2000–2012, we (1) quantified forest carbon gain and loss within 713 PAs and their external buffer zones, (2) tested variations in forest carbon change among management categories, and (3) evaluated the effectiveness of PAs and the prevalence of local leakage in terms of forest carbon. The net annual forest carbon gain in PAs of Uganda was 0.22 ± 1.36 t/ha, but a significant proportion (63%) of the PAs exhibited a net carbon loss. Further, carbon gain and loss varied significantly among management categories. About 37% of the PAs were “effective”, i.e., gained or at least maintained forest carbon during the period. Nevertheless, carbon losses in the external buffer zones of those effective PAs significantly contrast with carbon gains inside of the PA boundaries, providing evidence of leakage and thus, isolation. The combined carbon losses inside the boundaries of a large number of PAs, together with leakage in external buffer zones suggest that PAs, regardless of the management categories, are threatened by deforestation and forest degradation. If Uganda will have to benefit from carbon conservation from its large number of PAs through climate change mitigation mechanisms such as REDD+, there is an urgent need to look into some of the current PA management approaches, and design protection strategies that account for the surrounding landscapes and communities outside of the PAs.

To document

Abstract

Cadaver decomposition islands around animal carcasses can facilitate establishment of various plant life. Facultative scavengers have great potential for endozoochory, and often aggregate around carcasses. Hence, they may disperse plant seeds that they ingest across the landscape towards cadaver decomposition islands. Here, we demonstrate this novel mechanism along a gradient of wild tundra reindeer carcasses. First, we show that the spatial distribution of scavenger faeces (birds and foxes) was concentrated around carcasses. Second, faeces of the predominant scavengers (corvids) commonly contained viable seeds of crowberry, a keystone species of the alpine tundra with predominantly vegetative reproduction. We suggest that cadaver decomposition islands function as endpoints for directed endozoochory by scavengers. Such a mechanism could be especially beneficial for species that rely on small-scale disturbances in soil and vegetation, such as several Nordic berry-producing species with cryptic generative reproduction.

Abstract

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly used as tools to perform a detailed assessment of post-harvest sites. One of the potential use of UAV photogrammetric data is to obtain tree-stump information that can then be used to support more precise decisions. This study developed and tested a methodology to automatically detect, segment, classify, and measure tree-stumps. Among the potential applications for single stump data, this study assessed the possibility (1) to detect and map root- and butt-rot on the stumps using a machine learning approach, and (2) directly measure or model tree stump diameter from the UAV data. The results revealed that the tree-stumps were detected with an overall accuracy of 68–80%, and once the stump was detected, the presence of root- and butt-rot was detected with an accuracy of 82.1%. Furthermore, the root mean square error of the UAV-derived measurements or model predictions for the stump diameter was 7.5 cm and 6.4 cm, respectively, and with the former systematically under predicting the diameter by 3.3 cm. The results of this study are promising and can lead to the development of more cost-effective and comprehensive UAV post-harvest surveys.

To document

Abstract

The use of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) data has great potential for monitoring large scale forest above ground biomass (AGB) in the tropics due to the increased ability to retrieve 3D information even under cloud cover. To date; results in tropical forests have been inconsistent and further knowledge on the accuracy of models linking AGB and InSAR height data is crucial for the development of large scale forest monitoring programs. This study provides an example of the use of TanDEM-X WorldDEM data to model AGB in Tanzanian woodlands. The primary objective was to assess the accuracy of a model linking AGB with InSAR height from WorldDEM after the subtraction of ground heights. The secondary objective was to assess the possibility of obtaining InSAR height for field plots when the terrain heights were derived from global navigation satellite systems (GNSS); i.e., as an alternative to using airborne laser scanning (ALS). The results revealed that the AGB model using InSAR height had a predictive accuracy of RMSE = 24.1 t·ha−1 ; or 38.8% of the mean AGB when terrain heights were derived from ALS. The results were similar when using terrain heights from GNSS. The accuracy of the predicted AGB was improved when compared to a previous study using TanDEM-X for a sub-area of the area of interest and was of similar magnitude to what was achieved in the same sub-area using ALS data. Overall; this study sheds new light on the opportunities that arise from the use of InSAR data for large scale AGB modelling in tropical woodlands.