Developing a Site Based Index of Vegetation Structure Complexity from Terrestrial Laser Scanner Data
Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is a ground based form of LiDar (light detection and ranging) that generates highly accurate three dimensional point clouds of positional coordinates of leaves, branches and trunks at a stand scale (typically 1ha). It can be used to characterize a site by direct measurement of structural attributes, such as stem density, tree height, diameter at breast height and basal area. It also introduces the potential for quantifying attributes that are not readily measured in the field, such as the foliage area volume density, biomass, plant area index and canopy density. Estimates of vegetation structure over large areas can be obtained by linking multiple TLS plots to multispectral or synthetic aperture radar satellite imagery, airborne laser scanning or aerial imagery.
Monitoring and evaluation of site restoration efforts, to determine if the desired characteristics have been restored, is a crucial part of restoration ecology. It involves the assessment of a suite of attributes of the “restored” site – in relation to an undisturbed, or ‘reference’ site of the same vegetation type. This research project aims to develop methods for measuring site-based vegetation structural attributes in Australian vegetation communities, as a surrogate measure for landscape condition and biodiversity, from Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS).