The k-nearest neighbors (kNN) method is widely employed in national forest inventory applications using remote sensing data. The objective of this study was to evaluate the kNN method for stand volume estimation by combining LANDSAT/ETM+ data with 622 field sample plots from the Japanese National Forest Inventory (NFI) in Kyushu, Japan. The root mean square error (RMSE) and relative RMSE of the volume estimates rapidly decreased as the number of nearest neighbors (k) increased up to five, and then it slightly declined. They were consistently smaller for the Euclidean distance than for the Mahalanobis distance. The estimation errors (RMSE and relative RMSE) were 169.2 m 3/ha and 66.2%, respectively (k = 10). The relative RMSE was similar to the previous studies. The estimated values were more accurate towards the mean value of the total volume, with an overestimation of the low volumes and an underestimation of the high volumes. We found a significant linear relationship between the observed stand volumes and estimated errors, which suggests that systematic errors may be reduced using this linearity. This research concluded that the kNN method is suitable for estimating stand volumes in Kyushu.
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