Original Articles

Estimating plot-level forest structural attributes using high spectral resolution ASTER satellite data in even-aged Eucalyptus plantations in southern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Abstract

This study assessed the suitability of both visible and shortwave infrared of ASTER reflectance bands and various vegetation indices for estimating forest structural attributes of Eucalyptus species. The study was conducted in even-aged monoculture plantations of E. grandis and E. nitens in the southern KwaZulu-Natal Midlands of South Africa. Empirical relationships between forest structural attributes, i.e. stems per hectare (SPHA), diameter at breast height (DBH), mean tree height (MTH), basal area and volume, and ASTER data were derived using correlation and canonical correlation analysis (CCA). The results indicated weak relationships between the studied forest structural attributes and ASTER data. In the younger plantation stands (4–6 years) the adjusted R 2 values from CCA regression for SPHA, DBH, MTH, basal area and volume were 54.2, 63.5, 33.8, 25.4 and 30.3, respectively. The adjusted R 2 values in the mature stands (7–9 years) were distinctly weaker with values of 50.7, 55.8, 25.1, 20.2 and 27.3 for SPHA, DBH, MTH, basal area and volume, respectively. The results imply that ASTER satellite data are not applicable to forest structural attribute estimation in commercially managed forest stands.

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