In this study, we demonstrate the ability of a new operational system to detect forest loss at a large scale accurately and in a timely manner. We produced forest loss maps every week over Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos (>750,000 km2
in total) using Sentinel-1 data. To do so, we used the forest loss detection method based on shadow detection. The main advantage of this method is the ability to avoid false alarms, which is relevant in Southeast Asia where the areas of forest disturbance may be very small and scattered and detection is used for alert purposes. The estimated user accuracy of the forest loss map was 0.95 for forest disturbances and 0.99 for intact forest, and the estimated producer’s accuracy was 0.90 for forest disturbances and 0.99 for intact forest, with a minimum mapping unit of 0.1 ha. This represents an important step forward compared to the values achieved by previous studies. We also found that approximately half of forest disturbances in Cambodia from 2018 to 2020 occurred in protected areas, which emphasizes the lack of efficiency in the protection and conservation of natural resources in protected areas. On an annual basis, the forest loss areas detected using our method are found to be similar to the estimations from Global Forest Watch. These results highlight the fact that this method provides not only quick alerts but also reliable detections that can be used to calculate weekly, monthly, or annual forest loss statistics at a national scale.
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