Estimation of the vertical distribution of the fine canopy fuel in Pinus sylvestris stands using low density LiDAR data

L.A. Fidalgo-González, S. Arellano-Pérez, J.G. Álvarez-González, F. Castedo-Dorado, A.D. Ruiz-González, E. González-Ferreiro


Canopy fuel load, canopy bulk density and canopy base height are structural variables used to predict crown fire initiation and spread. Direct measurement of these variables is not functional, and they are usually estimated indirectly by modelling. Advances in fire behaviour modelling require accurate and landscape scale estimates of the complete vertical distribution of canopy fuels. The goal of the present study is to model the vertical profile of available canopy fuels in Scots pine stands by using data from the Spanish national forest inventory and low-density LiDAR data (0.5 first returns  m–2) provided by Spanish PNOA project (Plan Nacional de Ortofotografía Aérea). In a first step, the vertical distribution of the canopy fuel load was modelled using the Weibull probability density function. In a second step, a system of models was fitted to relate the canopy variables to Lidar-derived metrics. Models were fitted simultaneously to compensate the effects of the inherent cross-model correlation between errors. Heteroscedasticity was also analyzed, but correction in the fitting process was not necessary. The estimated canopy fuel load profiles from LiDAR-derived metrics explained 41% of the variation in canopy fuel load in the analysed plots. The proposed models can be used to assess the effectiveness of different forest management alternatives for reducing crown fire hazard.


canopy fuel load; canopy base height; canopy bulk density; airborne laser scanning; crown fires

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