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Coniferous forests represent canopies with a high heterogeneity in the horizontal and as well in the vertical dimension. Consequently the interaction of incident radiation is dominated by the complex 3-D canopy structure and architecture. Radiative transfer approaches based on coupled leaf and canopy radiative transfer models still allow the simulation of the canopy reflectance as a function of leaf optical properties, canopy structure and viewing geometry as well as the retrieval of biophysical and biochemical canopy variables. High resolution imaging spectrometry supported by LIDAR data and radiative transfer models of different levels of complexities (SAIL, GeoSAIL) are employed to assess the influence of canopy heterogeneity and structure at different spatial scales. We discuss the relevance of single scene components and canopy structure to the recorded canopy reflectance and present a strategy to support radiative transfer models for biophysical and biochemical parameter retrieval relevant for forest fires.