Mapping individual tree species and vitality along urban road corridors with LiDAR and imaging sensors: Point density versus view perspective

Jianwei Wu, Wei Yao, Przemyslaw Polewski

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


To meet a growing demand for accurate high-fidelity vegetation cover mapping in urban areas toward biodiversity conservation and assessing the impact of climate change, this paper proposes a complete approach to species and vitality classification at single tree level by synergistic use of multimodality 3D remote sensing data. So far, airborne laser scanning system (ALS or airborne LiDAR) has shown promising results in tree cover mapping for urban areas. This paper analyzes the potential of mobile laser scanning system/mobile mapping system (MLS/MMS)-based methods for recognition of urban plant species and characterization of growth conditions using ultra-dense LiDAR point clouds and provides an objective comparison with the ALS-based methods. Firstly, to solve the extremely intensive computational burden caused by the classification of ultra-dense MLS data, a new method for the semantic labeling of LiDAR data in the urban road environment is developed based on combining a conditional random field (CRF) for the context-based classification of 3D point clouds with shape priors. These priors encode geometric primitives found in the scene through sample consensus segmentation. Then, single trees are segmented from the labelled tree points using the 3D graph cuts algorithm. Multinomial logistic regression classifiers are used to determine the fine deciduous urban tree species of conversation concern and their growth vitality. Finally, the weight-of-evidence (WofE) based decision fusion method is applied to combine the probability outputs of classification results from the MLS and ALS data. The experiment results obtained in city road corridors demonstrated that point cloud data acquired from the airborne platform achieved even slightly better results in terms of tree detection rate, tree species and vitality classification accuracy, although the tree vitality distribution in the test site is less balanced compared to the species distribution. When combined with MLS data, overall accuracies of 78% and 74% for tree species and vitality classification can be achieved, which has improved by 5.7% and 4.64% respectively compared to the usage of airborne data only.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1403
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • ALS
  • CRF (conditional random field)
  • Evidence fusion
  • Tree species classification
  • Ultra-dense MLS
  • Vitality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping individual tree species and vitality along urban road corridors with LiDAR and imaging sensors: Point density versus view perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this