WOODLAND MAPPING AT SINGLE-TREE LEVELS USING OBJECT-ORIENTED CLASSIFICATION OF UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE (UAV) IMAGES
Keywords: Crown area, Object-oriented classification, Tree map, Unmanned aerial vehicle, Woodland
Abstract. Remotely sensed datasets offer a reliable means to precisely estimate biophysical characteristics of individual species sparsely distributed in open woodlands. Moreover, object-oriented classification has exhibited significant advantages over different classification methods for delineation of tree crowns and recognition of species in various types of ecosystems. However, it still is unclear if this widely-used classification method can have its advantages on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) digital images for mapping vegetation cover at single-tree levels. In this study, UAV orthoimagery was classified using object-oriented classification method for mapping a part of wild pistachio nature reserve in Zagros open woodlands, Fars Province, Iran. This research focused on recognizing two main species of the study area (i.e., wild pistachio and wild almond) and estimating their mean crown area. The orthoimage of study area was consisted of 1,076 images with spatial resolution of 3.47 cm which was georeferenced using 12 ground control points (RMSE=8 cm) gathered by real-time kinematic (RTK) method. The results showed that the UAV orthoimagery classified by object-oriented method efficiently estimated mean crown area of wild pistachios (52.09±24.67 m2) and wild almonds (3.97±1.69 m2) with no significant difference with their observed values (α=0.05). In addition, the results showed that wild pistachios (accuracy of 0.90 and precision of 0.92) and wild almonds (accuracy of 0.90 and precision of 0.89) were well recognized by image segmentation. In general, we concluded that UAV orthoimagery can efficiently produce precise biophysical data of vegetation stands at single-tree levels, which therefore is suitable for assessment and monitoring open woodlands.