Donald Gagliasso Publishes Paper on Estimating Forest Biomass and Basal Area

Title:  A Comparison of Selected Parametric and Non-Parametric Imputation Methods for Estimating Forest Biomass and Basal Area

Author: Donald Gagliasso

Source: Open Journal of Forestry. 4(1): 42-48

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Date:  2014

MB&G Forest Analyst Donald Gagliasso was the lead author on a recently published paper entitled ‘A Comparison of Selected Parametric and Non-Parametric Imputation Methods for Estimating Forest Biomass and Basal Area’ that he wrote with Susan Hummel and Hailemariam Temesgen. The paper, which was published in the Open Journal of Forestry Scientific Journal and featured on the USDA US Forest Service’s website, explores the comparison of various imputation methods to predict forest biomass and basal area, on a project planning scale sight in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon.

Gagliasso’s synopsis for the paper reads as:

Various methods have been used to estimate the amount of above ground forest biomass across landscapes and to create biomass maps for specific stands or pixels across ownership or project areas. Without an accurate estimation method, land managers might end up with incorrect biomass estimate maps, which could lead them to make poorer decisions in their future management plans. The goal of this study was to compare various imputation methods to predict forest biomass and basal area, at a project planning scale (<20,000 acres) on the Malheur National Forest, located in eastern Oregon, USA. We examined the predictive performance of linear regression, geographic weighted regression (GWR), gradient nearest neighbor (GNN), most similar neighbor (MSN), random forest imputation, and k-nearest neighbor (k-nn) to estimate biomass (tons/acre) and basal area (sq. feet per acre) across 19,000 acres on the Malheur National Forest. To test the different methods, a combination of ground inventory plots, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data, satellite imagery, and climate data was analyzed, and their root mean square error (RMSE) and bias were calculated. Results indicate that for biomass prediction, the k-nn (k = 5) had the lowest RMSE and least amount of bias. The second most accurate method consisted of the k-nn (k = 3), followed by the GWR model, and the random forest imputation. For basal area prediction, the GWR model had the lowest RMSE and least amount of bias. The second most accurate method was k-nn (k = 5), followed by k-nn (k = 3), and the random forest method. For both metrics, the GNN method was the least accurate based on the ranking of RMSE and bias.

Read the full paper on the Forest Service’s website.