Terrestrial Laser Scanning as an Effective Tool to Retrieve Tree Level Height, Crown Width, and Stem Diameter Academic Article uri icon


  • Accurate measures of forest structural parameters are essential to forest inventory and growth models, managing wildfires, and modeling of carbon cycle. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) fills the gap between tree scale manual measurements and large scale airborne LiDAR measurements by providing accurate below crown information through non-destructive methods. This study developed innovative methods to extract individual tree height, diameter at breast height (DBH), and crown width of trees in East Texas. Further, the influence of scan settings, such as leaf-on/leaf-off seasons, tree distance from the scanner, and processing choices, on the accuracy of deriving tree measurements were also investigated. DBH was retrieved by cylinder fitting at different height bins. Individual trees were extracted from the TLS point cloud to determine tree heights and crown widths. The R-squared value ranged from 0.91 to 0.97 when field measured DBH was validated against TLS derived DBH using different methods. An accuracy of 92% (RMSE = 1.51 m) was obtained for predicting tree heights. The R-squared value was 0.84 and RMSE was 1.08 m when TLS derived crown widths were validated using field measured crown widths. Examples of underestimations of field measured forest structural parameters due to tree shadowing have also been discussed in this study. The results from this study will benefit foresters and remote sensing studies from airborne and spaceborne platforms, for map upscaling or calibration purposes, for aboveground biomass estimation, and prudent decision making by the forest management.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Srinivasan, S., Popescu, S. C., Eriksson, M., Sheridan, R. D., & Ku, N.

citation count

  • 102

complete list of authors

  • Srinivasan, Shruthi||Popescu, Sorin C||Eriksson, Marian||Sheridan, Ryan D||Ku, Nian-Wei

publication date

  • January 2015