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Assessing forest windthrow damage using single-date, post-event airborne laser scanning data

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Chirici, Gherardo ; Bottalico, Francesca ; Giannetti, Francesca ; Del Perugia, Barbara ; Travaglini, Davide ; Nocentini, Susanna ; Kutchartt, Erico ; Marchi, Enrico ; Foderi, Cristiano ; Fioravanti, Marco ; Fattorini, Lorenzo ; Bottai, Lorenzo ; McRoberts, Ronald ; Næsset, Erik ; Corona, Piermaria ; Gozzini, Bernardo

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Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research


One of many possible climate change effects in temperate areas is the increase of frequency and severity of windstorms; thus, fast and cost efficient new methods are needed to evaluate wind-induced damages in forests. We present a method for assessing windstorm damages in forest landscapes based on a two-stage sampling strategy using single-date, post-event airborne laser scanning (ALS) data. ALS data are used for delineating damaged forest stands and for an initial evaluation of the volume of fallen trees. The total volume of fallen trees is then estimated using a two-stage model-assisted approach, where variables from ALS are used as auxiliary information in the difference estimator. In the first stage, a sample of the delineated forest stands is selected, and in the second stage the within-stand damages are estimated by means of line intercept sampling (LIS). The proposed method produces maps of windthrown areas, estimates of forest damages in terms of the total volume of fallen trees, and the uncertainty of the estimates. A case study is presented for a large windstorm that struck the Tuscany Region of Italy the night of the 4th and the 5th of March 2015 and caused extensive damages to trees in both forest and urban areas. The pure field-based estimates from LIS and the ALS-based estimates of stand-level fallen wood were very similar. Our positive results demonstrate the utility of the single-date approach for a fast assessment of windthrow damages in forest stands which is especially useful when pre-event ALS data are not available.


Chirici, Gherardo; Bottalico, Francesca; Giannetti, Francesca; Del Perugia, Barbara; Travaglini, Davide; Nocentini, Susanna; Kutchartt, Erico; Marchi, Enrico; Foderi, Cristiano; Fioravanti, Marco; Fattorini, Lorenzo; Bottai, Lorenzo; McRoberts, Ronald E; Næsset, Erik; Corona, Piermaria; Gozzini, Bernardo. 2017. Assessing forest windthrow damage using single-date, post-event airborne laser scanning data. Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research. 91(1): 27-37.

Last updated on: June 29, 2018