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Mapping forest degradation due to selective logging by means of time series analysis: Case studies in Central Africa.

Abstract:

Detecting and monitoring forest degradation in the tropics has implications for various fields of interest (biodiversity, emission calculations, self-sustenance of indigenous communities, timber exploitation). However, remote-sensing-based detection of forest degradation is difficult, as these subtle degradation signals are not easy to detect in the first place and quickly lost over time due to fast re-vegetation. To overcome these shortcomings, a time series analysis has been developed to map and monitor forest degradation over a longer period of time, with frequent updates based on Landsat data. This time series approach helps to reduce both the commission and the omission errors compared to, e.g., bi- or tri-temporal assessments. The approach involves a series of pre-processing steps, such as geometric and radiometric adjustments, followed by spectral mixture analysis and classification of spectral curves. The resulting pixel-based classification is then aggregated to degradation areas. The method was developed on a study site in Cameroon and applied to a second site in Central African Republic. For both areas, the results were finally evaluated against visual interpretation of very high-resolution optical imagery. Results show overall accuracies in both study sites above 85% for mapping degradation areas with the presented methods.

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Keywords: forest degradation; time series analysis; REDD+ monitoring system; SMA; gap detection