Tools for Calculating Tree Height Measurement and Volume

Trevor Brown —  June 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

Michael Taylor setting up equipmentForestry professionals, among others, must often calculate tree height and volume measurements for inventory and other purposes. Tree height measurements are often necessary for timber cruising, timber inventory, surveying, vegetation management, landscaping, and field inspections, to name a few. So, what are the best tools for this type of work? As demonstrated in the following use case, Juniper Systems rugged handhelds paired with equipment from Laser Technology Inc. create a powerful system for calculating tree height and volume.

California Big Trees Coordinator, Michael Taylor, is a member of The Native Tree Society (NTS), a group of outdoor enthusiasts known as “Tree Hunters.” Members of the NTS search out and document:

  1. Large and magnificent trees
  2. Ancient trees that exhibit the characteristics of great age; and
  3. Unusual trees with character

Taylor has compiled data on some of the tallest and largest trees recorded, which can be found on his website. He recently evaluated a system for measuring the “footprint” of a tree trunk.To perform the measurements, Taylor used a Juniper Systems Archer Field PC, along with MapSmart software and a laser rangefinder from Laser Technology Inc. Using this equipment, he created 3D surface point clouds of tree trunks to determine volume, and then used these points to create a tree footprint like the one shown below.

Tree Footprints created after plotting points and calculating tree height

This is what the 3D surface point cloud looked like in Excel:

3D surface point cloud of a tree, created after calculating tree height

In Taylor’s evaluation of the Archer/MapSmart system, he concluded that “I have not found a better set of tools for the job.” Tree footprint mapping is a very unique application of the Archer Field PC with laser technology. However, this system can be used in countless other applications that require height measurement or volume calculation. To read Taylor’s full account of how he used this system to map tree footprints, read his post here. Contact a data collection expert at Juniper Systems to learn more about our rugged handhelds or to discuss your specific application.

Trevor Brown

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As the Natural Resources Market Manager at Juniper Systems, I'm passionate about field data collection and I have extensive experience in providing solutions for natural resources and environmental applications. I enjoy spending time with family and playing in the mountains.

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