Enhancing Height Predictions of Brazilian Pine for Mixed, Uneven-Aged Forests Using Artificial Neural Networks

Emanuel Arnoni Costa, André Felipe Hess, César Augusto Guimarães Finger, Cristine Tagliapietra Schons, Danieli Regina Klein, Lorena Oliveira Barbosa, Geedre Adriano Borsoi, Veraldo Liesenberg, Polyanna da Conceição Bispo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Artificial intelligence (AI) seeks to simulate the human ability to reason, make decisions, and solve problems. Several AI methodologies have been introduced in forestry to reduce costs and increase accuracy in estimates. We evaluate the performance of Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) in estimating the heights of Araucaria angustifolia (Bertol.) Kuntze (Brazilian pine) trees. The trees are growing in Uneven-aged Mixed Forests (UMF) in southern Brazil and are under different levels of competition. The dataset was divided into training and validation sets. Multi-layer Perceptron (MLP) networks were trained under different Data Normalization (DN) procedures, Neurons in the Hidden Layer (NHL), and Activation Functions (AF). The continuous input variables were diameter at breast height (DBH) and height at the base of the crown (HCB). As a categorical input variable, we consider the sociological position of the trees (dominant–SP1 = 1; codominant–SP2 = 2; and dominated–SP3 = 3), and the continuous output variable was the height (h). In the hidden layer, the number of neurons varied from 3 to 9. Results show that there is no influence of DN in the ANN accuracy. However, the increase in NHL above a certain level caused the model’s over-fitting. In this regard, around 6 neurons stood out, combined with logistic sigmoid AF in the intermediate layer and identity AF in the output layer. Considering the best selected network, the following values of statistical criteria were obtained for the training dataset (R 2 = 0.84; RMSE = 1.36 m, and MAPE = 6.29) and for the validation dataset (R 2 = 0.80; RMSE = 1.49 m, and MAPE = 6.53). The possibility of using categorical and numerical variables in the same modeling has been motivating the use of AI techniques in different forestry applications. The ANN presented generalization and consistency regarding biological realism. Therefore, we recommend caution when determining DN, amount of NHL, and using AF during modeling. We argue that such techniques show great potential for forest management procedures and are suggested in other similar environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1284
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2022


  • Atlantic rain forest
  • araucaria
  • artificial intelligence
  • forest inventory
  • total height


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