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    Author(s): Rhonda MazzaDemetrios Gatziolis
    Date: 2018
    Source: Science Findings 209. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (7.0 MB)


    Accurate measurements of natural resources are a prerequisite for resource assessment. Demetrios Gatziolis, a scientist with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and his colleagues with Washington State University developed and tested protocols for using structure-from-motion photogrammetry to obtain data that can be used to construct 3-dimensional (3-D) representations of trees, other vegetation, and down wood. This type of photogrammetry is a remote-sensing technique based on a sequence of digital images or video footage. Gatziolis and his colleagues focused on developing protocols for using it under the forest canopy. Their method can serve as a guide for others interested in obtaining inexpensive, precise 3-D data of trees in field plots. The researchers continue to perfect the technology so it can be reliably deployed by field crews with a minimal amount of training.

    The researchers have also applied the technique in a variety of environments, including surveying aboveground roots of mangroves, which play a key role in mitigating shoreline erosion. Working in Mount St. Helen’s posteruption landscape, the researchers are supporting ongoing work to monitor revegetation, capturing metrics that would be impossible or extremely labor intensive to collect by hand. Photogrammetry yields digital records of conditions at a specific time. This may create possibilities to backtrack in the future and analyze parameters that aren’t currently being monitored.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Mazza, Rhonda; Gatziolis, Demetrios. 2018. A fuller picture: The building blocks of a 3-dimensional natural resource inventory. Science Findings 209. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


    Photogrammetry, structure from motion, forestry inventory, 3D, tool

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