U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version



Can. J. For. Res. 40: 184–199 (2010); doi:10.1139/X09-183


Sustainable forest management requires timely, detailed forest inventory data across large areas, which is difficult to obtain via traditional forest inventory techniques. This study evaluated k-nearest neighbor imputation models incorporating LiDAR data to predict tree-level inventory data (individual tree height, diameter at breast height, and species) across a 12 100 ha study area in northeastern Oregon, USA. The primary objective was to provide spatially explicit data to parameterize the Forest Vegetation Simulator, a tree-level forest growth model. The final imputation model utilized LiDAR-derived height measurements and topographic variables to spatially predict tree-level forest inventory data. When compared with an independent data set, the accuracy of forest inventory metrics was high; the root mean square difference of imputed basal area and stem volume estimates were 5 m2 • ha–1 and 16 m3 • ha–1, respectively. However, the error of imputed forest inventory metrics incorporating small trees (e.g., quadratic mean diameter, tree density) was considerably higher. Forest Vegetation Simulator growth projections based upon imputed forest inventory data follow trends similar to growth projections based upon independent inventory data. This study represents a significant improvement in our capabilities to predict detailed, tree-level forest inventory data across large areas, which could ultimately lead to more informed forest management practices and policies.