New White Paper: Lidar Analysis in ArcGIS 10 for Forestry Applications

January 2011

Gordon Sumerling, ESRI Australia Pty. Ltd.

“Foresters use light detection and ranging (lidar) data to understand the forest canopy and terrain, which helps them with forest management and operational activities. Combining lidar data with Esri ArcGIS helps analysts assess forest health, calculate forest biomass, classify terrain, identify drainage patterns, and plan forest management activities such as fertilization, harvesting programs, development activities, and more.

“This paper will step through processes to convert lidar data into a format ArcGIS can process, explain methods to interpret the lidar data, and show how ArcGIS can disseminate the data to those who are not geospatial analysts. It will present methods for reading raw classified lidar data and demonstrate methods for

  • Analyzing and validating lidar data with ArcGIS before any extensive processing occurs
  • Storing and managing millions or billions of lidar points within the geodatabase in a seamless dataset, regardless of the number of original lidar files
  • Processing to extract digital elevation models (DEMs) and digital surface models (DSMs) from the lidar data and store them as terrains in a geodatabase or as raster elevation files
  • Extracting vegetation density estimates and tree height estimates from lidar, which aid in growth analysis, fertilization regimes, and logging operations
  • Serving and analyzing large amounts of lidar data as a seamless dataset to geographic information system (GIS) clients

“In all areas, ArcGIS is a complete system for managing, storing, and analyzing lidar data. Coupling ArcGIS Desktop with ArcGIS Server, the forestry professional is able to access large amounts of lidar data quickly and efficiently without the need to produce additional resultant datasets.”

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