Mapping natural forest by means of remote sensing

Project title:
Mapping natural forest by means of remote sensing

Evaluating possibilities of applying recent development in remote sensing for characterizing forest structure and naturalness is of great interest from a forest monitoring perspective. Thus, the main objective of the research was to develop methods to identify natural forests, with emphasis on old natural forest.

Funded by:
Norwegian Environmental Agency




«Precision forestry for improved resource utilization and reduced wood decay in Norwegian forests (PRECISION)»

PRECISION is an integrated project that addresses root and butt rot (RBR), the largest source of biomaterial and value loss in the primary production of the Norwegian forest sector. Even a small improvement in the information of the geographical location of RBR can lead to a very large financial gain for the forest sector.

PRECISION consists of a multidisciplinary research consortium spanning the fields of robotics and forest technology, remote sensing, pathology, silviculture, forest management planning, and economics. The consortium includes researchers from Norwegian research institutes and universities in partnership with leading international scientists. The industrial partners are an integral part of the project – the PRECISION industrial partners are responsible for more than 80% of the annual harvest in Norway’s forests.

PRECISION aims at improving the carbon footprint and hence the overall sustainability of the Norwegian forest sector. RBR has a negative impact on the carbon footprint of the forestry sector as it reduces tree growth, increases tree mortality, and reduces the yield of saw timber that can substitute building materials with long lifetimes.

Read more (In Norwegian).

Time period:


“Mobilizing and Monitoring Climate Positive Efforts in Forests and Forestry”

Lomnessjøen and Storsjøen, Hedmark county, Norway. Photo: Ole Martin Bollandsås

Forest potential in the climate policy framework remains underutilized and significantly under-mobilized. Questions about the relative uncertainty surrounding the assessment of carbon content in soils and trees have been one problem. The introduction of strategies for encouraging climate friendly efforts on the part of landowners and other users of wood-based products represents another side of the problem. And finally, how forest carbon is accounted, and thus incentivised or not, in national, regional and international frameworks, represents a third problem. We address each of these at depth. We analyze national level strategies emerging in the context of the 2015 Paris Agreement and how these incentivise the role of forests and forest-based resources in the climate policy framework. Further, we analyze national level incentive systems for encouraging carbon friendly actions on the part of forest owners and consumers of harvested wood products. With this knowledge in hand, we consider new technologies and methods for the more accurate estimation of soil and tree carbon, from the national all the way down to the landowner level. Likewise, we investigate potential mitigation scenarios at the national and local level in three case studies (Netherlands, Romania and Sweden), analyzing response curves to economic and policy incentives. Finally, we analyze how international and regional climate change mitigation strategies can be better linked to subnational incentive systems. The goal is to promote methodologies that will provide a more accurate accounting of forest carbon, and permit the greater mobilization of forests and forest-based resources in national, regional and international climate policy frameworks.


See project pages for more information:


“Changing Forest Area and Forest Productivity – Climatic and Human Causes, Effects, Monitoring Options, and Climate Mitigation Potential”

Forest at high altitude in Hedmark County, Norway

Photo: Ole Martin Bollandsås

Project summary

A changing climate affects both the growth and the potential extent of our forests. Quantification of the effects is, however, not a trivial task. Climate change involves both changes in temperature and precipitation and studies have predicted that the magnitude of these changes will vary across latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. The competitive relationships between different vegetation species are also likely to change with changes in climate. In the boreal-alpine and boreal-tundra tree line ecotones, the changes are expected to be most rapid, both because trees here to a large degree grow on their tolerance limit in terms of climatic conditions, but also because the number of grazing domestic animals have declined in the last decades. A potential increased forest area because of upwards- and northwards shifts in the tree line will have an effect on carbon sequestration, but also the albedo effect and biodiversity in the tree line ecotone. Even for the forests well below the tree line, the growth conditions will change with changes in climate. Increased productivity will have impact both on the climate mitigation potential of the forest sector as well as the sector’s economic potential.

By means of time series data of the growth of trees, both on the productive forest land and in the tree line ecotone, coupled with time series data of climate, herbivory, airborne laser scanning, imagery, and multi-spectral information, the project ForestPotential aims at answering the several important research questions. What are the relative importance of grazing and climate on recruitment and growth in the tree line ecotone, and how accurately can changes be monitored using remotely sensed data? Can bi-temporal airborne laser scanner data be used to accurately estimate forest productivity? With input from the analyses of these research questions, we will also carry out long-term, large-scale forecasts of the Norwegian forest sector, also accounting for the albedo effect and the dynamics of the forest soil carbon stocks.


Rollag: Within a 200 x 600 m area, over a ridge in Rollag municipality, detailed measurements of trees in the tree line ecotone have been carried out. The development of these trees have been followed over a period of 12 years (2006-2018). The datast will primarely be used for development of a system for monitoring the tree line ecotone using remote sensing.

The transect: This dataset consists of a corridor sampled using aiborne laser scanners (200 m wide and 1,500 km long). The transect stretches from south to north in Norway and passes many transition zones between forest and alpine areas. Field measurements of trees and surrounding vegetation, have been carried out on 36 field sites along the transect. Laser scanner data have been collected over the transect in 2006/2007 and 2012/2013. Field work efforts were carried out in 2008, 2012 og 2018. A drone was used to collect remotely sensed data for the field sites in 2018 . Together with climate data and data describing herbivore pressure, the dataset is going to be used for analyses that aim at disentangling the effects of climate and changed land use on the changes in the tree line ecotone.

Hol/Setesdal: This dataset comprise controlled experiments where the vegetation partly have been protected from herbivores, and partly not. The dataset will be used to analyze how different levels of hebivore pressure affect the etablishment of trees in the tree line ecotone.

Production forest: This dataset comprise data from several operational forest inventories in the south-eastern part of Norway. For all the different locations, inventories at two different points in time are available. This enables analyses related to potential increased growth in the lowland forest as a result of a changing cllimate.


2022.11.26: End seminar

2020.11.12: Field work – Soil Carbon

2020.03.10: Project meeting

2018.10.12: Field work in the transect complete.

2018.03.23: Successfull startup meeting.

Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
Dr. Ole Martin Bollandsås
Email: olebo[at]

Prof. Erik Næsset, Prof. Terje Gobakken, Prof. Hans Fredrik Hoen, Prof. Kari Klanderud

Project partners
Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO)
Hans Asbjørn Aaheim

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Prof. Gunnar Austrheim

Scientific collaborators
University of British Columbia, Canada (UBC)
Prof. Nicholas C Coops

University of Idaho, USA (UoI)
Dr. Jan Eitel

Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland (FMI)
Prof. Jari Liski

Private sector collaborators
Viken Skog SA
Head of Dept. Svein Dypsund

Mjøsen Skog SA
Head of Dept. Geir Korsvold

Time period
2018 – 2021

Norwegian Research Council (NFR)
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

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