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In this paper, we propose an analysis on the joint effect of hyperspectral and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data for the classification of complex forest areas. In greater detail, we present: 1) an advanced system for the joint use of hyperspectral and LIDAR data in complex classification problems; 2) an investigation on the effectiveness of the very promising support vector machines (SVMs) and Gaussian maximum likelihood with leave-one-out-covariance algorithm classifiers for the analysis of complex forest scenarios characterized from a high number of species in a multisource framework; and 3) an analysis on the effectiveness of different LIDAR returns and channels (elevation and intensity) for increasing the classification accuracy obtained with hyperspectral images, particularly in relation to the discrimination of very similar classes. Several experiments carried out on a complex forest area in Italy provide interesting conclusions on the effectiveness and potentialities of the joint use of hyperspectral and LIDAR data and on the accuracy of the different classification techniques analyzed in the proposed system. In particular, the elevation channel of the first LIDAR return was very effective for the separation of species with similar spectral signatures but different mean heights, and the SVM classifier proved to be very robust and accurate in the exploitation of the considered multisource data.