ESTIMATION OF VEGETATION HEIGHT THROUGH SATELLITE IMAGE TEXTURE ANALYSIS
Keywords: Texture analysis, land cover, vegetation classification, Quickbird, mapping
Abstract. Vegetation height plays a crucial role in various ecological and environmental applications, such as biodiversity assessment and monitoring, landscape characterization, conservation planning and disaster management. Its estimation is traditionally based on in situ measurements or airborne Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) sensors. However, such methods are often proven insufficient in covering large area landscapes due to high demands in cost, labor and time. Considering a multispectral image from a passive satellite sensor as the only available source of information, we propose and evaluate new ways of discriminating vegetated habitat species according to their height, through calculation of texture analysis measures, based on local variance, entropy and local binary patterns. The methodology is applied in a Quickbird image of Le Cesine protected site, Italy. The proposed methods are proven particularly effective in discriminating low and mid phanerophytes from tall phanerophytes, having a height of less and more than 2 meters, respectively. The results indicate a promising alternative in vegetation height estimation when in situ or LiDAR data are not available or affordable, thus facilitating and reducing the cost of ecological monitoring and environmental sustainability planning tasks.