The Effect of Surrounding Vegetation on Basal Stem Measurements Acquired Using Low-Cost Depth Sensors in Urban and Native Forest Environments

Sensors (Basel). 2023 Apr 12;23(8):3933. doi: 10.3390/s23083933.


Three colour and depth (RGB-D) devices were compared, to assess the effect of depth image misalignment, resulting from simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) error, due to forest structure complexity. Urban parkland (S1) was used to assess stem density, and understory vegetation (≤1.3 m) was assessed in native woodland (S2). Individual stem and continuous capture approaches were used, with stem diameter at breast height (DBH) estimated. Misalignment was present within point clouds; however, no significant differences in DBH were observed for stems captured at S1 with either approach (Kinect p = 0.16; iPad p = 0.27; Zed p = 0.79). Using continuous capture, the iPad was the only RGB-D device to maintain SLAM in all S2 plots. There was significant correlation between DBH error and surrounding understory vegetation with the Kinect device (p = 0.04). Conversely, there was no significant relationship between DBH error and understory vegetation for the iPad (p = 0.55) and Zed (p = 0.86). The iPad had the lowest DBH root-mean-square error (RMSE) across both individual stem (RMSE = 2.16cm) and continuous (RMSE = 3.23cm) capture approaches. The results suggest that the assessed RGB-D devices are more capable of operation within complex forest environments than previous generations.

Keywords: RGB-D; forestry; inventory; low-cost; remote sensing.

MeSH terms

  • Forests*

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.