Assessing the effects of thinning on stem growth allocation of individual Scots pine trees

Ninni Saarinen*, Ville Kankare, Tuomas Yrttimaa, Niko Viljanen, Eija Honkavaara, Markus Holopainen, Juha Hyyppä, Saija Huuskonen, Jari Hynynen, Mikko Vastaranta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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Forest management alters the growing conditions and thus further development of trees. However, quantitative assessment of forest management on tree growth has been demanding as methodologies for capturing changes comprehensively in space and time have been lacking. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) has shown to be capable of providing three-dimensional (3D) tree stem reconstructions required for revealing differences between stem shapes and sizes. In this study, we used 3D reconstructions of tree stems from TLS and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to investigate how varying thinning treatments and the following growth effects affected stem shape and size of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) trees. The results showed that intensive thinning resulted in more stem volume and therefore total biomass allocation and carbon uptake compared to the moderate thinning. Relationship between tree height and diameter at breast height (i.e. slenderness) varied between both thinning intensity and type (i.e. from below and above) indicating differing response to thinning and allocation of stem growth of Scots pine trees. Furthermore, intensive thinning, especially from below, produced less variation in relative stem attributes characterizing stem shape and size. Thus, it can be concluded that thinning intensity, type, and the following growth effects have an impact on post-thinning stem shape and size of Scots pine trees. Our study presented detailed measurements on post-thinning stem growth of Scots pines that have been laborious or impracticable before the emergence of detailed 3D technologies. Moreover, the stem reconstructions from TLS and UAV provided variety of attributes characterizing stem shape and size that have not traditionally been feasible to obtain. The study demonstrated that detailed 3D technologies, such as TLS and UAV, provide information that can be used to generate new knowledge for supporting forest management and silviculture as well as improving ecological understanding of boreal forests.1

Original languageEnglish
Article number118344
Number of pages14
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Forest management
  • Ground-based LiDAR
  • Growth and yield
  • Silviculture
  • Terrestrial laser scanning
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle


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