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Open AccessArticle

Identifying Establishment Year and Pre-Conversion Land Cover of Rubber Plantations on Hainan Island, China Using Landsat Data during 1987–2015

Rubber Research Institute (RRI), Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences, (CATAS), Danzhou Investigation & Experiment Station of Tropical Cops, Ministry of Agriculture, Hainan Province, Danzhou 571737, China
Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, No. 2005, Songhu Road, Shanghai 200438, China
Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, Center for Spatial Analysis, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
School of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037, China
College of Big Data and Intelligence Engineering, Southwest Forestry University, Kunming 650224, China
Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100094, China
Key Laboratory of Earth Observation of Hainan Island, Sanya 572029, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1240;
Received: 13 June 2018 / Revised: 26 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Forest Cover Change)
Knowing the stand age of rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) plantations is vitally important for best management practices, estimations of rubber latex yields, and carbon cycle studies (e.g., biomass, carbon pools, and fluxes). However, the stand age (as estimated from the establishment year of rubber plantation) is not available across large regions. In this study, we analyzed Landsat time series images from 1987–2015 and developed algorithms to identify (1) the establishment year of rubber plantations; and (2) the pre-conversion land cover types, such as old rubber plantations, evergreen forests, and cropland. Exposed soil during plantation establishment and linear increases in canopy closure during non-production periods (rubber seedling to mature plantation) were used to identify the establishment year of rubber plantations. Based on the rubber plantation map for 2015 (overall accuracy = 97%), and 1981 Landsat images since 1987, we mapped the establishment year of rubber plantations on Hainan Island (R2 = 0.85/0.99, and RMSE = 2.34/0.54 years at pixel/plantation scale). The results show that: (1) significant conversion of croplands and old rubber plantations to new rubber plantations has occurred substantially in the northwest and northern regions of Hainan Island since 2000, while old rubber plantations were mainly distributed in the southeastern inland strip; (2) the pattern of rubber plantation expansion since 1987 consisted of fragmented plantations from smallholders, and there was no tendency to expand towards a higher altitude and steep slope regions; (3) the largest land source for new rubber plantations since 1988 was old rubber plantations (1.26 × 105 ha), followed by cropland (0.95 × 105 ha), and evergreen forests (0.68 × 105 ha). The resultant algorithms and maps of establishment year and pre-conversion land cover types are likely to be useful in plantation management, and ecological assessments of rubber plantation expansion in China. View Full-Text
Keywords: stand age; rubber plantations; pre-conversion land covers; Landsat; Google Earth Engine stand age; rubber plantations; pre-conversion land covers; Landsat; Google Earth Engine
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Chen, B.; Xiao, X.; Wu, Z.; Yun, T.; Kou, W.; Ye, H.; Lin, Q.; Doughty, R.; Dong, J.; Ma, J.; Luo, W.; Xie, G.; Cao, J. Identifying Establishment Year and Pre-Conversion Land Cover of Rubber Plantations on Hainan Island, China Using Landsat Data during 1987–2015. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 1240.

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