iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Analysis of full-waveform LiDAR data for forestry applications: a review of investigations and methods

F Pirotti   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 4, Issue 3, Pages 100-106 (2011)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0562-004
Published: Jun 01, 2011 - Copyright © 2011 SISEF

Review Papers

The goal of this review is to present leading examples of current methodologies for extracting forest characteristics from full-waveform LiDAR data. Four key questions are addressed: (i) does full-waveform LiDAR provide advantages over discrete-return laser sensors; (ii) will full-waveform LiDAR provide valid results in support of forest inventory operations and allow for a decrease in ground sampling efforts; (iii) is the use of full-waveform LiDAR data cost effective; and (iv) what is the scope of the applied methods (i.e., is full-waveform LiDAR accurate for different forest compositions, structures, and densities, and is it sensitive to leaf-off/leaf-on conditions)? Key forest structure characteristics can be estimated with significant accuracy using full-waveform metrics, although methodologies and their corresponding accuracies differ. For example, some processing methods are valid at the plot scale, whereas other procedures perform well at the regional scale; to be effective, certain LiDAR data analyses require a minimum point density, whereas other methods perform well using large-footprint sensors. Therefore, it is important to match processing methods with the appropriate scale and scope. The aim of this paper is to provide the forest research community and remote sensing technology developers with an overview of existing methods for inferring key forest characteristics, including their applicability and performance.


LiDAR, Full-waveform, Forest metrics, Forest structure parameters, Active remote sensing

Authors’ address

F Pirotti
Department of Land and Agroforest Environments, University of Padova - Agripolis, v.le dell’Università 16, I-35020 Legnaro (PD - Italy)

Corresponding author


Pirotti F (2011). Analysis of full-waveform LiDAR data for forestry applications: a review of investigations and methods. iForest 4: 100-106. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0562-004

Paper history

Received: Aug 02, 2010
Accepted: Feb 21, 2011

First online: Jun 01, 2011
Publication Date: Jun 01, 2011
Publication Time: 3.33 months

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