Estimation of urban tree canopy cover using random point sampling and remote sensing methods

Ebadat G. Parmehr, Marco Amati, Elizabeth J. Taylor, Stephen J. Livesley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Trees play an important role in urban areas by improving air quality, mitigating urban heat islands, reducing stormwater runoff and providing biodiversity habitat. Accurate and up-to-date estimation of urban tree canopy cover (UTC) is a basic need for the management of green spaces in cities, providing a metric from which variation can be understood, change monitored and areas rioritised. Random point sampling methods, such as i-Tree canopy, provide a cheap and quick estimation of UTC for a large area. Remote sensing methods using airborne Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) and multi-spectral images produce accurate UTC maps, although greater processing time and technical skills are required. In this paper, random point sampling and remote sensing methods are used to estimate UTC in Williamstown, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. High resolution multi-spectral satellite images fused with LiDAR data
with pixel-level accuracy are employed to produce the UTC map. The UTC is also estimated by categorising random points (a) automatically using the LiDAR derived UTC map and (b) manually using Google Maps and i-Tree canopy software. There was a minimum 1% difference between UTC estimated from the map derived from remotely sensed data and only 1000 random points automatically categorised by that same map, indicating the level of error associated with a random sampling approach. The difference between UTC estimated by remote sensing and manually categorised random point sampling varied in range of 4.5% using a confidence level of 95%. As monitoring of urban forest canopy becomes an increasing priority, the uncertainties associated with different UTC estimates should be considered when tracking change or comparing different areas using different methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-171
Number of pages12
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • i-Tree canopy
  • LiDAR
  • Multi-spectral image
  • Urban forest

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