Neural Tree Reconstruction for the Open Forest Observatory (Papers Track)

Marissa Ramirez de Chanlatte (UC Berkeley); Arjun Rewari (Darrell Group, Berkeley AI Research Lab); Trevor Darrell (UC Berkeley); Derek Young (University of California Davis)

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Forests Carbon Capture & Sequestration


The Open Forest Observatory (OFO) is a collaboration across universities and other partners to make low-cost forest mapping accessible to ecologists, land managers, and the general public. The OFO is building both a database of geospatial forest data as well as open-source methods and tools for forest mapping by un- crewed aerial vehicle. Such data are useful for a variety of climate applications including prioritizing reforestation efforts, informing wildfire hazard reduction, and monitoring carbon sequestration. In the current iteration of the OFO’s forest map database, 3D tree maps are created using classical structure-from-motion techniques. This approach is prone to artifacts, lacks detail, and has particular difficulty on the forest floor where the input data (overhead imagery) has limited visibility. These reconstruction errors can potentially propagate to the down- stream scientific tasks (e.g. a wildfire simulation.) Advances in 3D reconstruction, including methods like Neural Radiance Fields (NeRF), produce higher quality results that are more robust to sparse views and support data-driven priors. We explore ways to incorporate NeRFs into the OFO dataset, outline future work to support even more state-of-the-art 3D vision models, and describe the importance of high-quality 3D reconstructions for forestry applications.