Scientific publication

Remote Sensing Based Forest Map of Austria and Derived Environmental Indicators

Publication from Digital

Heinz Gallaun, Schardt, M., Linser, S.

Proceedings of ForestSat, 2007


Detailed information on the Austrian forests is regularly provided by the Austrian national forest inventory on a plot sample basis. However, for environmental assessments and international reporting, in addition, up-to-date information on the forests at a wall to wall basis, as well as derived environmental indicators is required. Therefore, within the GSE-Forest Monitoring initiative (, the following information is obtained from remote sensing data for whole Austria:

• Forest map according FAO nomenclature definition

• Land Cover statistic outside forests

• Derived forest environmental indicators

According to national reporting obligations towards UNECE/FAO, MCPFE and EEA the results are based on the FAO nomenclature definition of “forest” which differs from the national forest definition, e.g. regarding minimum forest area and minimum crown cover. For the generation of the Austrian forest map, high resolution multi-spectral satellite image data and very high resolution digital aerial imagery were combined. According to the requirements of the Austrian Federal Environment Agency, environmental indicators at the landscape level were derived from the forest map.

For the quantification of land-cover types outside of the forests an area frame sampling approach was implemented with regular distribution of the area frames over whole Austria in a distance of 20km by 20km, which gives quantitative information on the land cover according IPCC / FAO nomenclature definitions.

The area frame sampling results were also used for an independent accuracy assessment of the forest map. The results show a high overall accuracy of 96.6% for the derived Austrian forest map.

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Keywords: Forest Map, Austria, FAO nomenclature, Area Frame Sampling, environmental indicators