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The 3D structure of woody vegetation – accessible thanks to a new tool

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For his Master’s thesis, environmental scientist Pierre Cothereau set himself a very particular goal: any researcher who is interested in the 3D structure of woody vegetation should be able to extract this information from remote sensing data in user-defined height classes in a desired region – even with no specialist knowledge of remote sensing or GIS. To this end, he developed the Vertical Vegetation Structure Classifier (VVSC). This is a toolbox for the mapping platform ArcGIS that classifies the vegetation – as derived from LiDAR data in a selected region – into user-defined height classes. Thanks to Cothereau’s tool, researchers can now make use of these datasets in a straightforward fashion. The 3D information derived from VVSC can be combined with other data on the ecosystem’s properties, for example land use or climate, in order to analyze features such as structural networks or other aspects of connectivity within the landscape in 3D. His achievement has gained considerable recognition: he won the Young Scholar Award from Esri, one of the leading producers of geographic information system (GIS) software, and was able to present his project to an audience of international experts in San Diego, US. (Carla Eschmann, Diagonal 2/16)