Estimating Forest and Shrub Aboveground Dry Biomass in the Tanana Valley, Alaska using Ground Plots and Airborne Lidar Data

The project is a part of the large project called “A Joint USFS-NASA Pilot Project to Estimate Forest Carbon Stocks in Interior Alaska by Integrating Field, Airborne and Satellite Data”. The project is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Carbon Monitoring System (CMS). NASA CMS is designed to make significant contributions in characterizing, quantifying, understanding, and predicting the evolution of global carbon sources and sinks through improved monitoring of carbon stocks and fluxes. Continue reading


Rapid changes are expected in the mountain forest and the forest-alpine transition zone due to global warming. Since steep temperature-productivity gradients characterize these marginal areas, two fundamental effects are expected: (1) an expansion of the forest by colonization of non-forested areas and migration of the alpine tree line; (2) increased growth of existing trees which will have a significant impact on carbon sequestration and future carbon pools. Continue reading


WW-IRIS: New Technologies to Optimize the Wood Information Basis – Developing an Integrated Resource Information System.

In cooperation with several academic and industry partners, INA is working to develop technologies to optimize the wood information basis by developing an integrated resource information system. The duration of the project is from January 2008 to December 2010.

Related documents

WW-IRIS flyer
SILVILASER 2010 presentation


The main objective is to develop and optimize ground-based and airborne laser scanner methods for assessment of wood qualities and quantities at high spatial resolution. These methods will be validated across datasets collected in participating countries. A further aim is to improve the flow of information regarding wood resources along the forest/wood-products chain by adapting forest information and planning systems to utilize improved information from laser scanner aided inventories.

Laser point cloud from an airborne laser scanner.

Work packages

The project is divided into 15 different work packages, relating to following scientific issues:

  • Data sources and data requirements; defining user needs
  • Methods for single-tree detection and tree parameter extraction; international comparison of methods across forest types
  • Methods for stand-based assessment of wood quality using airborne laser
  • Methods for combining estimates derived for individual trees and at an area base to produce resource information for large geographical areas
  • Product recovery by combining single-tree airborne laser with terrestrial laser or harvester data
  • Data base design
  • Development of inventory and planning systems, utilization modeling
  • Dissemination and training

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A terrestrial laser scan and derived data products.

Results so far

Sustainable forest management and wood industries profit from forest resource information with high spatial and temporal resolution. This information is especially important to make correct planning decisions under difficult market conditions. Forest inventories commonly provide this information but are highly restricted regarding spatial and temporal resolution. The WW-IRIS project aims on resolving these restrictions by combining forest inventories with airborne laser scanner (ALS) data. The major research objectives of the WW-IRIS project, which were developed on the basis of the identified needs of the forest industries, are:

  • Development and optimization of laser scanner methods for assessment of wood qualities and quantities  at high spatial resolution and validation of these methods across countries.
  • Further improvement of the information flow regarding wood resources along the forest/wood-products chain by adapting forest information and planning systems to utilize improved information from laser scanner aided inventories.

Since these two objectives have a somewhat consecutive character, the main emphasis so far has been on the first objective. To produce valuable results, the research objectives were transposed into solid tasks in close cooperation with forest stakeholders represented in the advisory board of the project.The 3D structural information of the forest derived from ALS data can be used to detect and measure trees. Several teams within the project worked on the development of algorithms for segmentation of individual trees. These algorithms are currently being evaluated on data sets from different participating countries. However, not all trees in the forest can be detected, even with the most advanced algorithms. Therefore, other teams have developed methods, e.g. statistical models, which predict the missing trees and thus allow for unbiased estimates.We have also developed methods for prediction of product recovery from pre-harvest inventories with airborne laser scanning data trained by ground-based laser scanning or harvester data. Stem-files are efficiently being produced from harvesters or ground based scanners. The stem-files are imputed based on airborne laser scanning of an inventory area to predict stem attributes for forest stands without ground measurements.Another important research topic within the project is the prediction of tree species and tree species specific attributes. Several peer reviewed scientific articles from researchers within WW-IRIS regarding this subject were published or are currently in press.Finally, research work on the prediction of wood quality-related parameters and the extraction of forest roads using ALS has been carried out. Some partners have already started with adapting information systems to optimize the usage of the newly available data.

Actions planned

Next Project Board meeting is scheduled for 13 September 2010, in combination with the international SilviLaser conference 2010 to be held in Freiburg, Germany. For the SilviLaser conference, we plan to fill a full session with results from the IRIS project. The SilviLaser conference is organized by the two German research partners FeLis and FVA. In Norway, several researchers will continue to work on methods for tree segmentation, species discrimination and wood quality assessment. Publications on methods for operational single tree inventories will be refined and published. Several manuscripts are in review. They will be followed up.In Finland, work in all three work packages will continue. In the case of forest inventory several research papers using different methodologies will be written. For forest information systems pilot implementations for integrating XML- and GML-based forest data formats will be developed with laser dataset in the coming period and the digital road network, digital elevation models, and tree data are planned to be utilized in planning of harvesting operation. Correspondingly, forest planning calculations will be continued.In Sweden, methods for estimation of complete tree lists from airborne laser scanner data will be further developed and validated using the new dataset from northern Sweden. The predicted (imputed) stem-files from harvester measurements will be used for bucking simulations. Also, the stem-files produced from terrestrial laser scanning will be imputed with airborne laser scanner data and then used for bucking simulations. A raster database produced at a test site in northern Sweden will be used as input for the spatial optimization methodology developed in WP FI-3.In Germany, the comparison between single tree and stand based approaches will be carried out. A concept will be presented to utilize the obtained information within a forest information system (FVA).Algorithms for single tree detection and estimation will be further enhanced. It is also intended to use the data from the new flight campaign (November 2009) to develop a method which allows the explicit detection of tree stems. The algorithm for forest road extraction will be enhanced and expanded mainly by using a more intensive data fusion (FeLis).FoBaWi will work towards a realistic 3D representation of single tree crowns and analyze the correlation between the length and base diameter of branches. Since branch length can be measured with airborne laser data, branch diameter as one of the most credible quality parameters for the timber industry, can be estimated.

Project information


The project is funded by the EU under the WoodWisdom framework.

Project partners

Academic and Research Organizations (Role: executing)

Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway (coordinator, national coordinator)
Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg, Germany (national coordinator)
University of Joensuu, Finland (national coordinator)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden (national coordinator)
Norwegian forest and landscape institute, Norway
Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Skogforsk, The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Sweden

Industry Partners:

Viken Skog BA, Norway (user requirements, data support)
Klenk Holz AG, Germany (user requirements, validation of results)
Stora Enso OYJ, Finland (user requirements, data support, validation of results)
Arbonaut, Finland (validation of results, assessment of potential software/data products)
Savcor, Brasil/Finland (user requirements, data support, validation of results, assessment of potential software/data products)
Sveaskog, Sweden (user requirements)
Swedish Forest Agency, Sweden (data support, validation of results)
TreeMetrics Ltd, Ireland (data support, validation of results)

Published works

[bibtex file=WWiris.bib allow=article, inproceedings,unpublished]