Above‐Ground Biomass Estimation with High Spatial Resolution Satellite Images
Assessment and monitoring of forest biomass are frequently done with allometric functions per species for inventory plots. The estimation per area unit is carried out with an extrapolation method. In this chapter, a review of the recent methods to estimate forest above‐ground biomass (AGB) using remote sensing data is presented. A case study is given with an innovative methodology to estimate above‐ground biomass based on crown horizontal projection obtained with high spatial resolution satellite images for two evergreen oak species. The linear functions fitted for pure, mixed and both compositions showed a good performance. Also, the functions with dummy variables to distinguish species and compositions adjusted had the best performance. An error threshold of 5% corresponds to stand areas of 8.7 and 5.5 ha for the functions of all species and compositions without and with dummy variables. This method enables the overall area evaluation, and it is easily implemented in a geographic information system environment.
Part of the book: Biomass Volume Estimation and Valorization for Energy
Multi-Species Stand Classification: Definition and Perspectives
The increasing demands for products and services from forests enhanced new approaches to stand composition, structure, and management, which encompass multiple use systems, frequently mixed either even aged or uneven aged. Stand classification is frequently based on one density measure (number of trees, basal area, volume or crown cover). As no standard criteria exist, the direct comparison between the different stand classifications is difficult. This created a need for a stand classification that incorporates not only the forest species and composition but also their horizontal and vertical arrangements. The four criteria stand classification incorporates the number of species and their proportion, their horizontal and vertical distribution. The application of this methodology enables an integrated approach, bridging the gap between composition and stand structure. Its use in the National Forest Inventories and in research studies is simple, as shown in the two cases of study presented. It also allows the evaluation of stands in a certain moment in time and their dynamics.
Part of the book: Forest Ecology and Conservation
The Fire in the Mediterranean Region: A Case Study of Forest Fires in Portugal
Forest fires are a common disturbance in many forest systems in the world and in particular in the Mediterranean region. Their origins can be either natural or anthropogenic. The effects in regard to the time trends, vegetation, and soil will be reflected in the species distribution, forest composition, and soil potential productivity. In general, it can be said that the larger the fire and the shorter the time between two consecutive occurrences, the higher the probability to originate shifts in vegetation and soil degradation. In the Mediterranean region, the number of fire ignitions does not reflect the burnt area due to the occurrence of very large fires. The latter occur in a very small proportion of the number of ignitions, but result in very large burnt areas. Also there seems to be an increasing trend toward larger fires in the Mediterranean region due mainly to climatic and land use changes. This case study highlights the importance of vegetation regrowth a short time after the fire to maintain both forest systems and soil conservation.
Part of the book: Mediterranean Identities
Effects of Forest Stand Structure in Biomass and Carbon
Biomass has been gaining an increased interest due to its importance in sustainable forest management and in carbon sequestration. Biomass in each forest stand varies according to its structure and influences not only the biomass per area unit but also its distribution in space and time. The structure analysis with absolute stand density measures and structure and diversity measures and indices for the number of trees and basal area does not always reflect the above-ground biomass distribution and variability. The use of above-ground biomass as an absolute density measure and the development of diversity measures and indices derived from it enable further details in the stand structure characterisation. The results of this study highlighted the differences between pure even-aged, pure multiaged, mixed even-aged and mixed multiaged structures. The measures and indices of above-ground biomass are considered primordial as they integrate the horizontal and the vertical distribution, thus enabling a more detailed evaluation of biomass and carbon stocks.
Part of the book: Forest Biomass and Carbon
Absolute Density Measures Estimation Functions with Very High Resolution Satellite Images
Assessment and monitoring of forest structure is frequently done with absolute density measures with field forest inventory data and expansion methods. The development of basal area and the number of trees estimation functions with data derived from very high spatial resolution satellite images enable their short-term and cost-effective evaluation, allowing also the estimation for the area not requiring extrapolation methods. The functions of basal area and the number of trees per hectare are based on crown cover obtained with very high spatial resolution satellite images for two evergreen oaks and umbrella pine. The three tree species are especially important in the agroforestry systems of the Mediterranean region. The linear functions fitted for pure stands of the three species and mixed stands of cork and holm oak and of cork oak and umbrella pine showed a better performance for basal area than for the number of trees per hectare. The inclusion of dummy variables for species composition improved the accuracy of the functions.
Part of the book: Spatial Analysis, Modelling and Planning
Solid Biomass from Forest Trees to Energy: A Review
Among the different terrestrial ecosystems, forests are the most important biomass carbon producers and the ones that store the most standing biomass carbon. Consequently, they are also the major source of biomass for energy. Forest biomass has been used as a fuel from early times, and from the late twentieth century onward, there has been a renewed interest in its use to produce heat and electricity. The interest in forest biomass as an energy source relates to some of its features, such as relative abundance and uniformity worldwide and neutrality of CO2 emissions. Nonetheless, its use is not free of risks, mostly related with the sustainability of the forest systems and their productions. This study reviews the state of the art of the forest sources of biomass for energy, their assessment, their properties as a fuel, as well as the conversion technologies used in the most common energy applications.
Part of the book: Renewable Resources and Biorefineries
Thinning: An Overview
Thinning is one of the primordial silvicultural practices. It has been analysed by its methods and intensities, associated to the tree selection criteria. Yet, while some methods are of generalised use, others were developed for specific purposes. The goal of this review is to compile the existing information regarding tree selection, thinning methods and intensity as well as their effects on trees and stands. The effects of thinning indicate a reduction of density and a trend towards an increase of growth rates at tree level for a short time after thinning. Biomass and volume show similar or smaller values when compared to unthinned stands. Mortality and growth stagnation, especially in stands with low stability or vigour, can also occur. The modifications in stand structure can enhance its role as an adaptive measure.
Part of the book: Silviculture
Energy Production from Forest Biomass: An Overview
As long as care is taken regarding stand and forest sustainability, forest biomass is an interesting alternative to fossil fuels because of its historical use as an energy source, its relative abundance and availability worldwide, and the fact that it is carbon-neutral. This study encompasses the revision of the state of the sources of forest biomass for energy and their estimation, the impacts on forests of biomass removal, the current demand and use of forest biomass for energy, and the most used energy conversion technologies. Forests can provide large amounts of biomass that can be used for energy. However, as the resources are limited, the increasing demand for biomass brings about management challenges. Stand structure is determinant for the amount of residues produced. Biomass can be estimated with high accuracy using both forest inventory and remote sensing. Yet, remote sensing enables biomass estimation and monitoring in shorter time periods. Different bioenergy uses and conversion technologies are characterized by different efficiencies, which should be a factor to consider in the choice of the best suited technology. Carefully analyzing the different options in terms of available conversion technologies, end-uses, costs, environmental benefits, and alternative energy vectors is of utmost importance.
Part of the book: Forest Biomass
Evergreen Oak Biomass Residues for FirewoodView all chapters
This chapter presents the assessment of the availability for residential heating of residual biomass from cork and holm oaks in a 12,188 ha agroforest area in Portugal. First, the above-ground biomass of evergreen oaks using very high spatial resolution satellite images was determined, followed by the definition of different scenarios for residues removal from the stands. The useful energy potential of the firewood that can be collected from the study area under the various silviculture scenarios was determined considering different energy conversion technologies: open fireplaces (still popular in Portugal) and more efficient closed burning appliances. Additionally, emissions of airborne pollutants from combusting all the available residual biomass in the study area were determined. Depending on the percentage of residues collected when the trees are pruned and on the conversion technologies used, the energy potential of evergreen oak firewood ranged from 5.0 × 106 MJ year−1 to 7.5 × 107 MJ year−1. Heavier pruning combined with the use of open fireplaces generates less useful heat and much higher emissions of pollutants per unit useful energy produced than lighter pruning combined with a more efficient technology. This case study illustrates the need to promote the transition from inefficient to more efficient and cleaner technologies.
Part of the book: Forest Biomass