Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Detection of deforestation events and estimation of their area using multi-temporal remote sensing imagery

According to the Kyoto Protocol, Annex B Parties must report carbon stock changes and non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions during the commitment period on land areas that have been subject to direct human-induced deforestation activities since 1990. The definition of deforestation is given by the Marrakesh Accords. Deforestation for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol involves the conversion of forest land to non-forest land.

Remote sensing methods were applied to evaluate the applicability of Landsat data for monitoring of deforestation in remote areas for which no field data e.g. from national forest inventories is available. As Landsat TM data from the 1990's and Landsat ETM+ data from the 2000's is available as archive data free of cost for most parts of the world (e.g. GLCF archive), this is of main interest for large area applications, especially for remote locations for which no higher resolution imagery is available (or cannot be purchased because of high data costs). Detectability of the deforestation events depends mainly on the minimum area definition, the spatial resolution of the remote sensing imagery and on the change characteristics.

To improve the interpretation accuracy, methods for fusion of the panchromatic Landsat ETM+ data with the multi spectral bands were developed. The results show, that on the one hand, the Landsat data allows mapping of deforestation at a wall-to-wall basis at very low cost for most parts of the world with already available archive data, on the other hand, detectability with this data starts with large deforestation events of 1ha. If quantification of deforestation including smaller deforestation events is required, in addition to the wall to wall mapping, estimation of the probability distribution of the aerial extend of the deforestation events is required. This can be assessed by sampling parts of the whole area with very high resolution EO imagery (e.g. IKONOS satellite data). The developed methods allow very cost effective monitoring of large areas at a wall-to-wall basis (full aerial coverage).

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Joanneum Research, DIB
Wastiangasse 6
8010 Graz
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