I am currently trying to assess vegetation height for my study area. I am trying to use this guide: http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/manage-data/las-dataset/lidar-solutions-estimating-forest-density-and-height.htm#ESRI_SECTION1_CF0DCF017ABF4536B7FB62AFEA5E6B50

Unfortunately, I could not find Lidar data for my study area (northern South Africa) and despite several google searches, I could not find an alternative dataset (or method) to be used.

Would anyone have any recommendations for an alternative dataset or method?

  • LiDAR surveys are very expensive (10s of thousands of dollars and up) so I doubt you will be able to find any free data unless your government offers free public data via some kind of geospatial data portal. Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 21:43

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately without point cloud data you're going to have a hard time creating any sort of bare earth model. Do you know of any organizations in the area that do aerial photography or survey? I would suggest directly asking them if they've collected any such data within your study area as I doubt there will be any free data that will suffice for your needs.


To calculate a Canopy Height Model, you don't necessarily need the point cloud data. Maybe it is possible to get a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) and Digital Surface Model (DSM)? With those, you can go straight to the point Calculating the height in the manual. At least in my region in Austria, it is complicated to get any point clouds but the digital models are rather easy to acquire (5m resolution for download, 1m if you ask for it).

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