Individual tree crown delineation in high-resolution remote sensing images based on U-Net

2022 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Individual tree crown delineation in high-resolution remote sensing images based on U-Net​
Freudenberg, M.; Magdon, P. & Nölke, N.​ (2022) 
Neural Computing and Applications,.​ DOI: 

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Freudenberg, Maximilian; Magdon, Paul; Nölke, Nils
Abstract We present a deep learning-based framework for individual tree crown delineation in aerial and satellite images. This is an important task, e.g., for forest yield or carbon stock estimation. In contrast to earlier work, the presented method creates irregular polygons instead of bounding boxes and also provides a tree cover mask for areas that are not separable. Furthermore, it is trainable with low amounts of training data and does not need 3D height information from, e.g., laser sensors. We tested the approach in two scenarios: (1) with 30 cm WorldView-3 satellite imagery from an urban region in Bengaluru, India, and (2) with 5 cm aerial imagery of a densely forested area near Gartow, Germany. The intersection over union between the reference and predicted tree cover mask is 71.2% for the satellite imagery and 81.9% for the aerial images. On the polygon level, the method reaches an accuracy of 46.3% and a recall of 63.7% in the satellite images and an accuracy of 52% and recall of 66.2% in the aerial images, which is comparable to previous works that only predicted bounding boxes. Depending on the image resolution, limitations to separate individual tree crowns occur in situations where trees are hardly separable even for human image interpreters (e.g., homogeneous canopies, very small trees). The results indicate that the presented approach can efficiently delineate individual tree crowns in high-resolution optical images. Given the high availability of such imagery, the framework provides a powerful tool for tree monitoring. The source code and pretrained weights are publicly available at .
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Neural Computing and Applications 
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Waldinventur und Fernerkundung 
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Bundesministerium fur Verkehr und Digitale Infrastruktur
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen 501100003385



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