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Accuracy Assessment and Inter-Comparison of Eight Medium Resolution Forest Products on the Loess Plateau, China

School of Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences, Beijing 100083 China
Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Satellite Environment Center, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Beijing 100094, China
Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, and Center for Spatial Analysis, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019, USA
Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai, 200438, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jun Chen; Songnian Li; Shu Peng and Wolfgang Kainz
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6(5), 152;
Received: 20 March 2017 / Revised: 2 May 2017 / Accepted: 11 May 2017 / Published: 14 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Analysis and Applications of Global Land Cover Data)
PDF [16300 KB, uploaded 15 May 2017]


Forests play an important role in maintaining ecosystem services, especially in ecologically fragile areas such as the Loess Plateau (LP) in China. However, there is still great uncertainty in the spatial extent and distribution of forests in such a fragmented region. In order to examine the advantages and disadvantages of existing forest mapping products, we conducted a thorough accuracy assessment on the eight recent, medium resolution (30–50 m) products by using the LP in 2010 as the region of interest. These mapping products include Landsat and/or PALSAR images (including the forest products from GlobeLand30), FROM-GLC, Hansen, ChinaCover, NLCD-China, GLCF VCF, OU-FDL, and JAXA. The same validation data were used to assess and rank the accuracy of each product. Additionally, the spatial consistency of the different forest products and their dependence on the terrain were analyzed. The results showed that the overall accuracies of the eight forest products on the LP in 2010 were between 0.93 ± 0.003 and 0.97 ± 0.002 with a 95% confidence interval, and GlobeLand30 presented the highest overall accuracy (0.97 ± 0.002). Among them, the PALSAR-based products (OU-FDL and JAXA) indicated relatively high accuracies, while the six Landsat-based products showed a large diversity in the accuracy. According to the eight products, the total estimated forest area of the LP varied from 7.627 ± 0.077 to 10.196 ± 0.1 million ha with a 95% confidence interval. We also found that the consistency in the spatial distribution of forests between these maps: 1) increased substantially with increasing elevation until 2000m, but then decreased at higher elevations, and 2) showed mild variation along increasing slope, but had a slight rate of increase. Our findings implied that future forest mapping studies should consider topographical attributes such as elevation and slope in their final products. Our results are fundamental in guiding future applications of these existing forest maps. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest maps; Loess Plateau; accuracy assessment; Landsat; PALSAR forest maps; Loess Plateau; accuracy assessment; Landsat; PALSAR

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Yang, Z.; Dong, J.; Liu, J.; Zhai, J.; Kuang, W.; Zhao, G.; Shen, W.; Zhou, Y.; Qin, Y.; Xiao, A.X. Accuracy Assessment and Inter-Comparison of Eight Medium Resolution Forest Products on the Loess Plateau, China. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6, 152.

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