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Image-based 3D Urban Tree Modeling

2013 | Dr. Justin Morgenroth, University of Canterbury
This research project aims to develop a simple new method for producing dimensionally-accurate 3D urban tree models using a basic digital camera. The technique we will assess (SfM: Structure-from-Motion) has successfully modeled the structure of objects less complex than trees (e.g. buildings). Our research group has previously produced accurate height and diameter estimates of trees in a pilot study using the SfM technique (published in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening). This research builds on the previous work by applying the technique across a range of tree forms, sizes and species to ensure its utility is widespread and not just a tool in the researcher’s toolbox.

Current approaches to tree mensuration typically include only linear measurements (e.g. height, DBH, crown spread). 3D attributes like above-ground volume (used in calculations in iTree), are estimated using allometric equations which can introduce significant error. Our 3D modelling approach will allow above-ground volume to be directly measured, not estimated. Implications exist for inventory, tree valuation, hazard tree assessment, benefit modelling, and arboriculture education.

Our method differs from previous image-based tree measurement efforts in that it’s the first to output a 3D tree model. Because it is not cost prohibitive, it is distinguished from LiDAR-based 3D tree modeling undertaken by others.

Categories 2013, Grant Archive, John Z. Duling Grant | Tags: | Posted on March 27, 2014

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Helping with the STIHL Tour des Trees was an exciting week of visiting new places, planting and dedicating new trees, and meeting great people! I was able to network extensively with arboriculture professionals from across the country, cheer them along the way, and share with the public the importance of trees. Helping out also gave me the opportunity to thank each and every rider for his or her contribution to the TREE Fund, which made my scholarship possible!

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