| Hedgerows and woodland habitats are an important feature of the Irish landscape due in part to their roles in biodiversity, agricultural management and potential carbon sequestration. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions in the land use, land use change and forestry sector (LULUCF) are largely associated with forestry sinks. However, it is suggested that there could be a potential GHG mitigation potential in grazing land or cropland with a Non-Forest Woody Biomass (NFWB) component of hedgerow and scrub. Our current knowledge on hedgerows in the Irish landscape is better than our knowledge of other NFWB. Estimates of hedgerows in Ireland range from 3.9 to 6.4% of the total land cover area and the Teagasc Hedgerow and Scrub Map (THM) put a national estimate at approximately 450 kHa or 6.4% of the landscape
It has long been recognised that laser scanning, LiDAR, can be a tool in national biomass inventories and is well regarded for carbon. LiDAR was used successfully in the recent study conducted by some members of this consortium. The project successfully estimated biomass in hedgerows using high resolution airborne LiDAR. Direct modelling of LiDAR metrics were used to accurately estimate hedgerow and non-forest woodland biomass. However NFWB outside of hedgerows were not considered and the estimated cost of a national survey remains too high (see http://www.epa.ie/newsandevents/news/previous/2014/name,55039,en.html)
We aim to use very high spatial resolution X-band radar data (and slightly lower resolution C- and L-band) with extensive field ground truth data to retrieve biomass estimates of NFWB from the radar backscatter signal and object characteristics is at the leading edge of current applications but entirely supported by the state-of-the-art. Thus this project is called BRIAR – Biomass Retrieval in Ireland using Active Remote Sensing.
We are the first research group in Ireland to use the new Starring Spotlight data from DLR Terrasar x. The 25cm resolution is ideally tailored to this target.
The aim of the EPA funded BRIAR is to demonstrate the use of radar remote sensing to estimate biomass in scrub and hedgerow targets. This will involve validating the proposed methodology using an intensive field campaign and producing a fully costed step-by-step processing/modelling chain for use in a national inventory of non-forest woody biomass.