Assessment of temporal changes in aboveground forest tree biomass using aerial photographs and allometric equations

Avi Bar Massada*, Yohay Carmel, Gilad Even Tzur, José M. Grünzweig, Dan Yakir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Studies of forest biomass dynamics typically use long-term forest inventory data, available in only a few places around the world. We present a method that uses photogrammetric measurements from aerial photographs as an alternative to time-series field measurements. We used photogrammetric methods to measure tree height and crown diameter, using four aerial photographs of Yatir Forest, a semi-arid forest in southern Israel, taken between 1978 and 2003. Height and crown-diameter measurements were transformed to biomass using an allometric equation generated from 28 harvested Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.) trees. Mean tree biomass increased from 6.37 kg in 1978 to 97.01 kg in 2003. Mean plot biomass in 2003 was 2.48 kg/m2 and aboveground primary productivity over the study period ranged between 0.14 and 0.21 kg/m2 per year. There was systematic overestimation of tree height and systematic underestimation of crown diameter, which was corrected for at all time points between 1978 and 2003. The estimated biomass was significantly related to field-measured biomass, with an R2 value of 0.78. This method may serve as an alternative to field sampling for studies of forest biomass dynamics, assuming that there is sufficient spatial and temporal coverage of the investigated area using high-quality aerial photography, and that the tree tops are distinguishable in the photographs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2585-2594
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006


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