Gregory Tilley, AeroMetric, Inc., Gtilley@aerometric.com
Jacob Strunk, AeroMetric, Inc., jstrunk@aerometric.com (Presenter)


The application of LiDAR in forest management has been the subject of numerous promising studies, yet LiDAR remains a fringe technology that has not been widely adopted for routine forest inventories. This paper examines methodologies that allow LiDAR to be employed cost effectively in concert with traditional field methods. Examples of the application of these methodologies to real commercial forest management operations are reviewed. The findings indicate that a carefully implemented LiDAR enhanced inventory can be performed at costs that are comparable to a conventional inventory by using statistically derived reductions in the number of required field plots. Moreover, the LiDAR solution has the added benefit of improved turnaround time and increased number and reliability of derived metrics, including high precision mapped estimates of volume, canopy height and bare earth models. Achievement of optimal results with LiDAR requires careful balancing of a number of variables, including the number and location of field plots, LiDAR point density and the statistical modeling approach. This paper outlines how those decisions are made, and how LiDAR can be cost effectively incorporated into routine forest inventory operations.