Classification of Australian native forest species using hyperspectral remote sensing and machine-learning classification algorithms
Mapping forest species is highly relevant for many ecological and forestry applications. In Australia, the classification of native forest species using remote sensing data remains a particular challenge since there are many eucalyptus species that belong to the same genus and, thus, exhibit similar biophysical characteristics. This study assessed the potential of using hyperspectral remote sensing data and state-of-the-art machine-learning classification algorithms to classify Australian forest species at the leaf, canopy and community levels in Beecroft Peninsula, NSW, Australia. Spectral reflectance was acquired from an ASD spectrometer and airborne Hymap imagery for seven native forest species over an Australian eucalyptus forest. Three machine-learning classification algorithms: Support Vector Machine (SVM), AdaBoost and Random Forest (RF) were applied to classify the species. A comparative study was carried out between machine-learning classification algorithms and Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA). The classification results show that all machine-leaning classification algorithms significantly improve the results produced by LDA. At the leaf level, RF achieved the best classification accuracy (94.7%), and SVM outperformed the other algorithms at both the canopy (84.5%) and community levels (75.5%). This study demonstrates that hyperspectral remote sensing and machine-learning classification has substantial potential for the classification of Australian native forest species.