LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a remote sensing technology that uses light in the form of pulses to measure the range between a sensor and the Earth’s surface. Recent increase in availability of airborne LiDAR scanning (ALS) data providing national coverage with high point densities has opened a wide range of possibilities for monitoring landscape elements and their changes at broad geographical extent. We assessed the dynamics of the spatial extent of non-forest woody vegetation (NFW) in a study area of approx. 2500 km2 in southern Jutland, Denmark, based on two acquisitions of ALS data for 2006 and 2014 in combination with other spatial data. Our results show a net-increase (4.8%) in the total area of NFW. Furthermore, this net change comprises of both areas with a decrease and areas with an increase of NFW. An accuracy assessment based on visual interpretation of aerial photos indicates high accuracy (>95%) in the delineation of NFW without changes during the study period. For NFW that changed between 2006 and 2014, accuracies were lower (90 and 82% in removed and new features, respectively), which is probably due to lower point densities of the 2006 ALS data (0.5 pts./m2) compared to the 2014 data (4–5 pts./m2). We conclude that ALS data, if combined with other spatial data, in principle are highly suitable for detailed assessment of changes in landscape features, such as formations of NFW at broad geographical extent. However, in change assessment based on multi-temporal ALS data with different point densities errors occur, particularly when examining small or narrow NFW objects.
Angelidis I., Levin G., Díaz-Varela R. A., Malinowski R., Environ Monit Assess (2017) 189: 437.