The multiscale (specially upscalling) prediction of biomass is a major challenge, since its variation in the hectare scale in poorly known. Civilian UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) can be particularly useful in this respect, offering for a low cost, both detail and spatial extent in biomass and several other forest measurements.

Bird’s eye view of the Hainich National Park, drone RGB composite from a height of 250 meters (credits: Getzin & Wiegand/Biodiversitäts-Exploratorien)

Remote Sensing data are commonly acquired through satellites (Link auf www.hgf-eda.de) or airplanes, with multispectral, hyperspectral or LiDAR sensors. Drones have been increasingly used as a new remote sensing platform. For example the Quadrocopter Microdrones „md4-1000“ is equipped with a laser (LiDAR) scanner, a hyperspectral scanner, a RGB camera and a Thermal Scanner. The LiDAR data are used to measure the height of individual tree crowns, and identify tree species and tree fall gaps. This forest structure information can help to answer several ecological questions. Further applications for drones can be studies in agricultural land, savannas or anthropogenically influenced forests.