Mapping Urban Forest Tree Species Using IKONOS Imagery: Preliminary Results

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urban forest, IKONOS, stepwise masking system, maximum likelihood classifier, tree species identification

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A stepwise masking system with high-resolution IKONOS imagery was developed to identify and map urban forest tree species/groups in the City of Tampa, Florida, USA. The eight species/groups consist of sand live oak (Quercus geminata), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), live oak (Quercus virginiana), magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), pine (species group), palm (species group), camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), and red maple (Acer rubrum). The system was implemented with soil-adjusted vegetation index (SAVI) threshold, textural information after running a low-pass filter, and brightness threshold of NIR band to separate tree canopies from non-vegetated areas from other vegetation types (e.g., grass/lawn) and to separate the tree canopies into sunlit and shadow areas. A maximum likelihood classifier was used to identify and map forest type and species. After IKONOS imagery was preprocessed, a total of nine spectral features were generated, including four spectral bands, three hue–intensity–saturation indices, one SAVI, and one texture image. The identified and mapped results were examined with independent ground survey data. The experimental results indicate that when classifying all the eight tree species/ groups with the high-resolution IKONOS image data, the identifying accuracy was very low and could not satisfy a practical application level, and when merging the eight species/groups into four major species/groups, the average accuracy is still low (average accuracy = 73%, overall accuracy = 86%, and κ  = 0.76 with sunlit test samples). Such a low accuracy of identifying and mapping the urban tree species/groups is attributable to low spatial resolution IKONOS image data relative to tree crown size, to complex and variable background spectrum impact on crown spectra, and to shadow/shaded impact. The preliminary results imply that to improve the tree species identification accuracy and achieve a practical application level in urban area, multi-temporal (multi-seasonal) or hyperspectral data image data should be considered for use in the future.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, v. 172, issue 1-4, p. 199-214