Estimation of Forest Area and Canopy Cover Based on Visual Interpretation of Satellite Images in Ethiopia | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
September 2018
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© 2018 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Forests, particularly in the tropics, are suffering from deforestation and forest degradations. The estimation of forest area and canopy cover is an essential part of the establishment of a measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) system that is needed for monitoring carbon stocks and the associated greenhouse gas emissions and removals. Information about forest area and canopy cover might be obtained by visual image interpretation as an alternative to expensive fieldwork. The objectives of this study were to evaluate different types of satellite images for forest area and canopy cover estimation though visual image interpretation, and assess the influence of sample sizes on the estimates. Seven sites in Ethiopia with different vegetation systems were subjectively identified, and visual interpretations were carried out in a systematical design. Bootstrapping was applied to evaluate the effects of sample sizes. The results showed that high-resolution satellite images (≤5 m) (PlanetScope and RapidEye) images produced very similar estimates, while coarser resolution imagery (10 m, Sentinel-2) estimates were dependent on forest conditions. Estimates based on Sentinel-2 images varied significantly from the two other types of images in sites with denser forest cover. The estimates from PlanetScope and RapidEye were less sensitive to changes in sample size.

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Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Asrat, Zerihun
Taddese, Habitamu
Ørka, O. Hans
Gobakken, Terje
Burud, Ingunn
Næsset, Erik


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