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  • Feasibility study on the use of medium resolution satellite data for the detection of forest cover change caused by clear cutting of coniferous forests in the northwest of Eurasia, Report


This feasibility study examines possibilities of identifying and mapping of clear-cuts in the boreal coniferous forests of north western Eurasia based on satellite imagery of medium spatial resolution (MRSD).
Different image types obtained from the MODIS and the MERIS sensor were visually examined in order to assess their suitability for clear cut detection. MODIS imagery of 250 m spatial resolution from the years 2001 and 2002 were ultimately selected as the main data source for the change analysis. The study compares different detection and mapping approaches, including (i) the visual interpretation of a principal component band combination, (ii) an unsupervised digital classification and (iii) a combination of image differencing and textural analysis, defining statistical thresholds for the identification of clear cuts.
The results show that the detection of the location of clear cut patterns is feasible by each approach, given that the size of the clear cut is larger than about 15 ha.
For mapping and area estimation, the digital approaches are considered more efficient. The best mapping result was achieved based on the combination of image differencing and textural analysis. However, the mapping accuracy is limited by omission and commission errors, caused by the spatial resolution of the imagery and by slight geometrical location discrepancies between different acquisitions. Also atmospheric and seasonal effects can strongly influence the reliability of change indications. Based on a set of reference clear cut areas, delineated from Landsat TM imagery, the mapping accuracy was estimated at 65 %.

Additional information

Authors: STIBIG H-J, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);BUCHA T, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 21579 EN (2005), 42pp. Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9893 Fax: +39 033278 5409 E-mail: or Bruxelles (BE) Tel: +32 2 295 76 24 Fax: +32 2 299 63 22
Record Number: 200618484 / Last updated on: 2005-12-15
Original language: en
Available languages: en
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