Goal: Mapping of 240 million trees

The goal of the Virtual Forest is to allow for the description of the forest based on forest stands, single trees and calibrated samples at the same time. The long-term goal is to set up a database containing all trees in North Rhine-Westfalia (Germany) with a diameter at breast height greater than 20 cm (approx. 240 million trees) and their precise location in geographical coordinates. The feasibility of this goal was already demonstrated in the first project stage. The first major milestone was the generation of a novel stand inventory method. It splits the forest area (semi-) automatically into forest stands and describes them using attributes like tree species, stand density and stock of timber.

First results make the project team optimistic regarding feasibility of this ambitious plan. So, very good results in coniferous stands older than 40 years have already been reached. The recognition quota here is higher than 90 %, the positioning in test crops was accurate to 50 centimetres. Furthermore, first good results for hardwood stands are noticeable, too.