3D Tree Models for Forest Dynamics

Laser scanning technologies are rapidly altering dramatically the availability of measurements about forest stand dynamics. It is and will be possible to acquire detailed and precise 3D representations of individual trees in different phases of forest growth at low cost. Such data provides means to effectively monitor forests in 4D and offers prospects and challenges especially to models of forest dynamics that work at sub-crown level. This meeting focused on interaction of 3D forest models and laser scanning data. The topic of databases and experiments for identification of 3D models was also be covered.

The 3D Tree Models for Forest Dynamics workshop was organized in Helsinki, Finland on January 9th and 10th, 2020. The event was co-organized by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and Inverse Tampere at Tampere University (TAU), the aggregation of the recently merged Tampere University of Technology and University of Tampere.

The workshop brought together a total of 80 participants over various fields of science for two days. The program consisted of 4 keynote talks, 11 oral presentations and 20 poster presentations. Material from the presentations is available under the presentations section.

Upcoming special issue

In the rapidly changing world, monitoring and predicting the dynamics of forest development has wider importance than ever before. No more seen just as a source for economic resources, forests provide a wide range of vital benefits through their mere existence and their central role in many processes influencing humanity. The impacts of forest dynamics range from the sustainability of local livelihoods, through maintaining suitable conditions for important species and healthy watersheds, to global dynamics of the earth system through interplay with processes of biodiversity, and the dynamics of substances involved in climate regulation.

Advances in laser scanning and related remote sensing technologies have rapidly altered the capacity to collect information on forests and stand dynamics. The new technologies allow acquiring detailed and precise 3D representations of individual trees in different phases of forest growth at low cost, which is a fundamental step towards analysing the structure and functioning of forests in a wide scale. Serving as a proxy for many important forest traits, the 3D measurements of trees and stands will open new perspectives for analysing, monitoring and predicting forest dynamics.

A topical challenge is the development of 3D models for exploration and prediction of forest dynamics. While the tradition of modelling forest growth is long, it has not been feasible to measure the precise 3D structure of trees and stands until the advances in laser scanning have provided methods that are fast and applicable in wide scale. Now there is potential for laser scanning data to enable construction of models that can be applied to explore the implications of detailed 3D tree structure for different functional characteristics of growing forest stands.

The list of potential research topics is broad and advances in laser scanning technology continuously open new possibilities. The measurements can have potential links with characterization of the availability of growth resources for trees, quantification of microhabitats and microclimates within the forests, examining the outcomes of species interactions, or forecasting the economic prospects of forest stands with regard to timber quality and quantity, as well as the risks of pest, wind or snow damage. A significant amount of data has already been accumulated in databases worldwide.

Annals of Botany will release a Special Issue inspired by the 3D Tree Models for Forest Dynamics workshop held in Helsinki, Finland, on January 9th and 10th, 2020 to provide a broad overview of the aspects of constructing 3D models and synthesizing data for analyses of forest dynamics using laser scanning measurements. Guest editors will be Pekka Kaitaniemi and Markku Åkerblom. This is an open call for all papers that consider 3D models of forest dynamics as well as different features of laser scanning measurements applicable for forest modelling. All types of papers (primary research articles, reviews, viewpoints, research-in-context) are welcomed following the usual peer-review process. If you would like your manuscript to be considered for inclusion in the Special Issue, submit your manuscript before April 15, 2021 in order to be considered. Visit AoB and submit.

Themes and topics

The programme includes presentations and poster sessions, and some time for discussions. The three sessions are

3D data for forest analyses

Invited talk

Model identification using 3D forest data

Invited talk

Towards analysis of forest functioning