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Sensors (Basel). 2014 Aug 20;14(8):15348-70. doi: 10.3390/s140815348.

Intra-and-inter species biomass prediction in a plantation forest: testing the utility of high spatial resolution spaceborne multispectral RapidEye sensor and advanced machine learning algorithms.

Author information

1
Discipline of Geography, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P/Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa. dube.timoth@gmail.com.
2
Discipline of Geography, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P/Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa. MutangaO@ukzn.ac.za.
3
Discipline of Geography, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P/Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa. Elhadi.Adam@wits.ac.za.
4
Discipline of Geography, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P/Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa. Riyad.Ismail@sappi.com.

Abstract

The quantification of aboveground biomass using remote sensing is critical for better understanding the role of forests in carbon sequestration and for informed sustainable management. Although remote sensing techniques have been proven useful in assessing forest biomass in general, more is required to investigate their capabilities in predicting intra-and-inter species biomass which are mainly characterised by non-linear relationships. In this study, we tested two machine learning algorithms, Stochastic Gradient Boosting (SGB) and Random Forest (RF) regression trees to predict intra-and-inter species biomass using high resolution RapidEye reflectance bands as well as the derived vegetation indices in a commercial plantation. The results showed that the SGB algorithm yielded the best performance for intra-and-inter species biomass prediction; using all the predictor variables as well as based on the most important selected variables. For example using the most important variables the algorithm produced an R² of 0.80 and RMSE of 16.93 t·ha⁻¹ for E. grandis; R² of 0.79, RMSE of 17.27 t·ha⁻¹ for P. taeda and R² of 0.61, RMSE of 43.39 t·ha⁻¹ for the combined species data sets. Comparatively, RF yielded plausible results only for E. dunii (R² of 0.79; RMSE of 7.18 t·ha⁻¹). We demonstrated that although the two statistical methods were able to predict biomass accurately, RF produced weaker results as compared to SGB when applied to combined species dataset. The result underscores the relevance of stochastic models in predicting biomass drawn from different species and genera using the new generation high resolution RapidEye sensor with strategically positioned bands.

PMID:
25140631
PMCID:
PMC4179085
DOI:
10.3390/s140815348
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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