Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Pingel, Thomas J.

Second Advisor

Luo, Wei

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment


Human and natural forces continually act on urban forests to producing changes that leading to trees being removed or replanted. Therefore, to manage the urban forest effectively, periodic inventories are needed to ensure that information about the urban forest is current and comprehensive. This task has traditionally been accomplished by manual ground-based field surveys, or more recently by lidar; however, these methods are expensive, either in terms of time, labor, or cost. This project proposes a novel method of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to more accurately measure urban tree height and trunk diameter than is currently possible using conventional approaches. This method uses Structure from Motion (SfM) processing of images captured from UAVs to derive these measurements. A comparative analysis was performed on a sample of approximately 1,000 trees testing the accuracy of these SfM measurements when compared to manually field measured or lidar based methods. Results suggest that in an urban environment the SfM method produces estimates of tree height (R2 = 0.96; RMSE = 1.91 m) and diameter (R2 = 0.98; RMSE = 3 cm) when compared to manual field measurements.


45 pages




Northern Illinois University

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NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

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