iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Terrestrial laser scanning as a tool for assessing tree growth

Jonathan Sheppard (1)   , Christopher Morhart (1), Jan Hackenberg (1-2-3), Heinrich Spiecker (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 10, Issue 1, Pages 172-179 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2138-009
Published: Nov 19, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles

Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) technology is a powerful tool for assessing tree growth based on time series analysis, as it allows a level of scrutiny not achievable using established destructive techniques. We applied TLS technology to 21 wild cherry trees grown in a research plot near Breisach (southern Germany) in order to build quantitative structure models (QSMs) for each tree. Scans were carried out over three subsequent years (2012-2014), so that three QSMs per each tree were constructed. Using the above approach, we were able to assess the annual growth of the individual wild cherry trees in terms of diameter and height, stem and branch volume, and the merchantable timber fraction. In addition, the growth of single branches of sample trees was detected and quantified. The availability of QSMs based on TLS-derived data allowed the accurate determination of crown length and width, as well as the volume reduction as the result of the tree pruning applied after the first scan (2012). The aboveground biomass (AGB) was assessed for each tree based on the QSM-derived volume and published wood density values for wild cherry, and then compared with AGB values estimated with standard allometric methods, obtaining a very high correlation (r2adj = 0.941). We concluded that the proposed approach is an effective non-destructive technique to accurately assess the increase of tree biomass, and discuss its future application in the forestry sector.


TLS, Time Series Analysis, Prunus avium L., Wild Cherry, Simpletree, Quantitative Structure Models

Authors’ address

Jonathan Sheppard
Christopher Morhart
Jan Hackenberg
Heinrich Spiecker
Chair of Forest Growth and Dendroecology, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg (Germany)
Jan Hackenberg
INRA, Centre de Nancy, Biogéochimie des Ecosystèmes Forestiers, Champenoux (France)
Jan Hackenberg
IGN, Laboratoire d’Inventaire Forestier, Nancy (France)

Corresponding author


Sheppard J, Morhart C, Hackenberg J, Spiecker H (2016). Terrestrial laser scanning as a tool for assessing tree growth. iForest 10: 172-179. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2138-009

Academic Editor

Chris Eastaugh

Paper history

Received: Jun 16, 2016
Accepted: Oct 06, 2016

First online: Nov 19, 2016
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2017
Publication Time: 1.47 months

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