Using LiDAR to determine urban tree condition in Surrey, BC
Dr Nicholas Coops and graduate student Andrew Plowright, in collaboration with the city of Surrey, BC, aim to develop new applications for airborne remote sensing in the field of urban forestry. The first goal of the project is to examine the potential of airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) for evaluating urban tree condition. LiDAR, an emerging remote sensing technology, is capable of obtaining highly precise three-dimensional measurements of terrain and landscape features by emitting concentrated pulses of light. We apply automated techniques for detecting urban trees from LiDAR data, and test its capacity to measure key physiological indicators of tree condition.
The second objective is to investigate patterns of tree condition across the city, as well as potential environmental drivers of tree growth. We use airborne hyperspectral imagery to map impervious surfaces, and derive terrain characteristics from LiDAR data. After controlling for age, we then construct statistical models that relate these environmental variables with the height of trees. The results of this project offer new and efficient ways for city managers to assess the condition of their urban tree stock, as well as provide insight into the environmental factors that affect tree growth.