Special Issue "Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Michael Sprintsin
Website
Guest Editor
Land Development Authority, Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeIsrael, Eshtaol, M.P. Shimshon 99775, Israel
Interests: Forest health monitoring; Ecosystem status and change; Land use and land cover dynamic; Forest biochemistry and productivity; Biophysical parameters estimation.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Forests play a vital role in maintaining the Earth’s ecological balance and environmental health due to their promoting role in the global carbon cycle, water resources quality, and recreation potential. Therefore, changes in forest cover are now a matter of global concern, and a tremendous amount of resources have been invested in stimulating developing technologies for accurate monitoring and estimating the current status of forest resources on several spatial scales.

Remote sensing is particularly useful for this matter because it brings together a multitude of tools to better analyze the scope and scale of forest status that could be studied broadly and uniformly across time and space. Over the last few decades, the global and regional scale of temporal remote sensed data has become available for monitoring the changes in forest cover; supporting forest inventories; and taking a closer look into forest ecophysiology, biophysics and biochemistry.

This Special Issue will focus on state-of-the-art research that specifically addresses various aspects of using remote sensing for estimating and monitoring forest health and, in particular, changes in forest cover, biophysics, and biochemistry.

We are inviting papers including but not limited to the following research topics:

  • Remote sensing methods to measure vegetation biophysical parameters;
  • Methods for the retrieval of canopy biophysical (e.g., leaf area index, fractional vegetation cover, fAPAR, and plant height) and biochemical (e.g., leaf/canopy chlorophyll and water content and fuel moisture contents) parameters from satellite and airborne sensors;
  • Methods to estimate forest canopy status and condition (e.g., forest disturbance, degradation and regrowth);
  • Early stress detection;
  • Assimilation of biophysical parameters derived from remote sensing for forestry applications and forest management.

Dr. Michael Sprintsin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Forest health monitoring
  • Ecosystem status and change
  • Land use and land cover dynamic
  • Forest biochemistry and productivity
  • Biophysical parameters estimation

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Burned Area Mapping Using Multi-Temporal Sentinel-2 Data by Applying the Relative Differenced Aerosol-Free Vegetation Index (RdAFRI)
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(17), 2753; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12172753 - 25 Aug 2020
Abstract
Assessing the development of wildfire scars during a period of consecutive active fires and smoke overcast is a challenge. The study was conducted during nine months when Israel experienced massive pyro-terrorism attacks of more than 1100 fires from the Gaza Strip. The current [...] Read more.
Assessing the development of wildfire scars during a period of consecutive active fires and smoke overcast is a challenge. The study was conducted during nine months when Israel experienced massive pyro-terrorism attacks of more than 1100 fires from the Gaza Strip. The current project strives at developing and using an advanced Earth observation approach for accurate post-fire spatial and temporal assessment shortly after the event ends while eliminating the influence of biomass burning smoke on the ground signal. For fulfilling this goal, the Aerosol-Free Vegetation Index (AFRI), which has a meaningful advantage in penetrating an opaque atmosphere influenced by biomass burning smoke, was used. On top of it, under clear sky conditions, the AFRI closely resembles the widely used Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), and it retains the same level of index values under smoke. The relative differenced AFRI (RdAFRI) set of algorithms was implemented at the same procedure commonly used with the Relative differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (RdBRN). The algorithm was applied to 24 Sentinel-2 Level-2A images throughout the study period. While validating with ground observations, the RdAFRI-based algorithms produced an overall accuracy of 90%. Furthermore, the RdAFRI maps were smoother than the equivalent RdNBR, with noise levels two orders of magnitude lower than the latter. Consequently, applying the RdAFRI, it is possible to distinguish among four severity categories. However, due to different cloud cover on the two consecutive dates, an automatic determination of a threshold level was not possible. Therefore, two threshold levels were considered through visual inspection and manually assigned to each imaging date. The novel procedure enables calculating the spatio-temporal dynamics of the fire scars along with the statistics of the burned vegetation species within the study area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Pre-Emptive Detection of Mature Pine Drought Stress Using Multispectral Aerial Imagery
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(14), 2338; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12142338 - 21 Jul 2020
Abstract
Drought, ozone (O3), and nitrogen deposition (N) alter foliar pigments and tree crown structure that may be remotely detectable. Remote sensing tools are needed that pre-emptively identify trees susceptible to environmental stresses could inform forest managers in advance of tree mortality [...] Read more.
Drought, ozone (O3), and nitrogen deposition (N) alter foliar pigments and tree crown structure that may be remotely detectable. Remote sensing tools are needed that pre-emptively identify trees susceptible to environmental stresses could inform forest managers in advance of tree mortality risk. Jeffrey pine, a component of the economically important and widespread western yellow pine in North America was investigated in the southern Sierra Nevada. Transpiration of mature trees differed by 20% between microsites with adequate (mesic (M)) vs. limited (xeric (X)) water availability as described in a previous study. In this study, in-the-crown morphological traits (needle chlorosis, branchlet diameter, and frequency of needle defoliators and dwarf mistletoe) were significantly correlated with aerially detected, sub-crown spectral traits (upper crown NDVI, high resolution (R), near-infrared (NIR) Scalar (inverse of NDVI) and THERM Δ, and the difference between upper and mid crown temperature). A classification tree model sorted trees into X and M microsites with THERM Δ alone (20% error), which was partially validated at a second site with only mesic trees (2% error). Random forest separated M and X site trees with additional spectra (17% error). Imagery taken once, from an aerial platform with sub-crown resolution, under the challenge of drought stress, was effective in identifying droughted trees within the context of other environmental stresses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Sentinel-2 Data in an Evaluation of the Impact of the Disturbances on Forest Vegetation
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(12), 1914; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12121914 - 13 Jun 2020
Abstract
In this article, we investigated the detection of forest vegetation changes during the period of 2017 to 2019 in the Low Tatras National Park (Slovakia) and the Sumava National Park (Czechia) using Sentinel-2 data. The evaluation was based on a time-series analysis using [...] Read more.
In this article, we investigated the detection of forest vegetation changes during the period of 2017 to 2019 in the Low Tatras National Park (Slovakia) and the Sumava National Park (Czechia) using Sentinel-2 data. The evaluation was based on a time-series analysis using selected vegetation indices. The case studies represented five different areas according to the type of the forest vegetation degradation (one with bark beetle calamity, two areas with forest recovery mode after a bark beetle calamity, and two areas without significant disturbances). The values of the trajectories of the vegetation indices (normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and normalized difference moisture index (NDMI)) and the orthogonal indices (tasseled cap greenness (TCG) and tasseled cap wetness (TCW)) were analyzed and validated by in situ data and aerial photographs. The results confirm the abilities of the NDVI, the NDMI and the TCW to distinguish disturbed and undisturbed areas. The NDMI vegetation index was particularly useful for the detection of the disturbed forest and forest recovery after bark beetle outbreaks and provided relevant information regarding the health of the forest (the individual stages of the disturbances and recovery mode). On the contrary, the TCG index demonstrated only limited abilities. The TCG could distinguish healthy forest and the gray-attack disturbance phase; however, it was difficult to use this index for detecting different recovery phases and to distinguish recovery phases from healthy forest. The areas affected by the disturbances had lower values of NDVI and NDMI indices (NDVI quartile range Q2–Q3: 0.63–0.71; NDMI Q2–Q3: 0.10–0.19) and the TCW index had negative values (Q2–Q3: −0.06–−0.05)). The analysis was performed with a cloud-based tool—Sentinel Hub. Cloud-based technologies have brought a new dimension in the processing and analysis of satellite data and allowed satellite data to be brought to end-users in the forestry sector. The Copernicus program and its data from Sentinel missions have evoked new opportunities in the application of satellite data. The usage of Sentinel-2 data in the research of long-term forest vegetation changes has a high relevance and perspective due to the free availability, distribution, and well-designed spectral, temporal, and spatial resolution of the Sentinel-2 data for monitoring forest ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
A Hierarchical Clustering Method for Land Cover Change Detection and Identification
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(11), 1751; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12111751 - 29 May 2020
Abstract
A method to detect abrupt land cover changes using hierarchical clustering of multi-temporal satellite imagery was developed. The Autochange method outputs the pre-change land cover class, the change magnitude, and the change type. Pre-change land cover information is transferred to post-change imagery based [...] Read more.
A method to detect abrupt land cover changes using hierarchical clustering of multi-temporal satellite imagery was developed. The Autochange method outputs the pre-change land cover class, the change magnitude, and the change type. Pre-change land cover information is transferred to post-change imagery based on classes derived by unsupervised clustering, enabling using data from different instruments for pre- and post-change. The change magnitude and change types are computed by unsupervised clustering of the post-change image within each cluster, and by comparing the mean intensity values of the lower level clusters with their parent cluster means. A computational approach to determine the change magnitude threshold for the abrupt change was developed. The method was demonstrated with three summer image pairs Sentinel-2/Sentinel-2, Landsat 8/Sentinel-2, and Sentinel-2/ALOS 2 PALSAR in a study area of 12,372 km2 in southern Finland for the detection of forest clear cuts and tested with independent data. The Sentinel-2 classification produced an omission error of 5.6% for the cut class and 0.4% for the uncut class. Commission errors were 4.9% for the cut class and 0.4% for the uncut class. For the Landsat 8/Sentinel-2 classifications the equivalent figures were 20.8%, 0.2%, 3.4%, and 1.6% and for the Sentinel-2/ALOS PALSAR classification 16.7%, 1.4%, 17.8%, and 1.3%, respectively. The Autochange algorithm and its software implementation was considered applicable for the mapping of abrupt land cover changes using multi-temporal satellite data. It allowed mixing of images even from the optical and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors in the same change analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Multi-Type Forest Change Detection Using BFAST and Monthly Landsat Time Series for Monitoring Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Forests in Subtropical Wetland
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(2), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12020341 - 20 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Land cover changes, especially excessive economic forest plantations, have significantly threatened the ecological security of West Dongting Lake wetland in China. This work aimed to investigate the spatiotemporal dynamics of forests in the West Dongting Lake region from 2000 to 2018 using a [...] Read more.
Land cover changes, especially excessive economic forest plantations, have significantly threatened the ecological security of West Dongting Lake wetland in China. This work aimed to investigate the spatiotemporal dynamics of forests in the West Dongting Lake region from 2000 to 2018 using a reconstructed monthly Landsat NDVI time series. The multi-type forest changes, including conversion from forest to another land cover category, conversion from another land cover category to forest, and conversion from forest to forest (such as flooding and replantation post-deforestation), and land cover categories before and after change were effectively detected by integrating Breaks For Additive Seasonal and Trend (BFAST) and random forest algorithms with the monthly NDVI time series, with an overall accuracy of 87.8%. On the basis of focusing on all the forest regions extracted through creating a forest mask for each image in time series and merging these to produce an ‘anytime’ forest mask, the spatiotemporal dynamics of forest were analyzed on the basis of the acquired information of multi-type forest changes and classification. The forests are principally distributed in the core zone of West Donting Lake surrounding the water body and the southwestern mountains. The forest changes in the core zone and low elevation region are prevalent and frequent. The variation of forest areas in West Dongting Lake experienced three steps: rapid expansion of forest plantation from 2000 to 2005, relatively steady from 2006 to 2011, and continuous decline since 2011, mainly caused by anthropogenic factors, such as government policies and economic profits. This study demonstrated the applicability of the integrated BFAST method to detect multi-type forest changes by using dense Landsat time series in the subtropical wetland ecosystem with low data availability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Understanding Current and Future Fragmentation Dynamics of Urban Forest Cover in the Nanjing Laoshan Region of Jiangsu, China
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(1), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12010155 - 02 Jan 2020
Abstract
Accurate acquisition of the spatiotemporal distribution of urban forests and fragmentation (e.g., interior and intact regions) is of great significance to contributing to the mitigation of climate change and the conservation of habitat biodiversity. However, the spatiotemporal pattern of urban forest cover changes [...] Read more.
Accurate acquisition of the spatiotemporal distribution of urban forests and fragmentation (e.g., interior and intact regions) is of great significance to contributing to the mitigation of climate change and the conservation of habitat biodiversity. However, the spatiotemporal pattern of urban forest cover changes related with the dynamics of interior and intact forests from the present to the future have rarely been characterized. We investigated fragmentation of urban forest cover using satellite observations and simulation models in the Nanjing Laoshan Region of Jiangbei New Area, Jiangsu, China, during 2002–2023. Object-oriented classification-based land cover maps were created to simulate land cover changes using the cellular automation-Markov chain (CA-Markov) model and the state transition simulation modeling. We then quantified the forest cover change by the morphological change detection algorithm and estimated the forest area density-based fragmentation patterns. Their relationships were built through the spatial analysis and statistical methods. Results showed that the overall accuracies of actual land cover maps were approximately 83.75–92.25% (2012–2017). The usefulness of a CA-Markov model for simulating land cover maps was demonstrated. The greatest proportion of forest with a low level of fragmentation was captured along with the decreasing percentage of fragmented area from 81.1% to 64.1% based on high spatial resolution data with the window size of 27 pixels × 27 pixels. The greatest increase in fragmentation (3% from 2016 to 2023) among the changes between intact and fragmented forest was reported. However, intact forest was modeled to have recovered in 2023 and restored to 2002 fragmentation levels. Moreover, we found 58.07 km2 and 0.35 km2 of interior and intact forests have been removed from forest area losses and added from forest area gains. The loss rate of forest interior and intact area exceeded the rate of total forest area loss. However, their approximate ratio (1) implying the loss of forest interior and intact area would have slight fragmentation effects on the remaining forests. This analysis illustrates the achievement of protecting and restoring forest interior; more importantly, excessive human activities in the surrounding area had been avoided. This study provides strategies for future forest conservation and management in large urban regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Sequential PCA-based Classification of Mediterranean Forest Plants using Airborne Hyperspectral Remote Sensing
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(23), 2800; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11232800 - 27 Nov 2019
Abstract
In recent years, hyperspectral remote sensing (HRS) has become common practice for remote analyses of the physiognomy and composition of forests. Supervised classification is often used for this purpose, but demands intensive sampling and analyses, whereas unsupervised classification often requires information retrieval out [...] Read more.
In recent years, hyperspectral remote sensing (HRS) has become common practice for remote analyses of the physiognomy and composition of forests. Supervised classification is often used for this purpose, but demands intensive sampling and analyses, whereas unsupervised classification often requires information retrieval out of the large HRS datasets, thereby not realizing the full potential of the technology. An improved principal component analysis-based classification (PCABC) scheme is presented and intended to provide accurate and sequential image-based unsupervised classification of Mediterranean forest species. In this study, unsupervised classification and reduction of data size are performed simultaneously by applying binary sequential thresholding to principal components, each time on a spatially reduced subscene that includes the entire spectral range. The methodology was tested on HRS data acquired by the airborne AisaFENIX HRS sensor over a Mediterranean forest in Mount Horshan, Israel. A comprehensive field-validation survey was performed, sampling 257 randomly selected individual plants. The PCABC provided highly improved results compared to the traditional unsupervised classification methodologies, reaching an overall accuracy of 91%. The presented approach may contribute to improved monitoring, management, and conservation of Mediterranean and similar forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
An Integrated GIS and Remote Sensing Approach for Monitoring Harvested Areas from Very High-Resolution, Low-Cost Satellite Images
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(21), 2539; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11212539 - 29 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Advanced monitoring and mapping of forest areas using the latest technological advances in satellite imagery is an alternative solution for sustainable forest management compared to conventional ground measurements. Remote sensing products have been a key source of information and cost-effective options for monitoring [...] Read more.
Advanced monitoring and mapping of forest areas using the latest technological advances in satellite imagery is an alternative solution for sustainable forest management compared to conventional ground measurements. Remote sensing products have been a key source of information and cost-effective options for monitoring changes in harvested areas. Despite recent advances in satellite technology with a broad variety of spectral and temporal resolutions, monitoring the areal extent of harvested forest areas in managed forests is still a challenge, primarily due to the highly dynamic spatiotemporal patterns of logging activities. Our goal was to introduce a plot-based method for monitoring harvested forest areas from very high-resolution (VHR), low-cost satellite images. Our method encompassed two data categories, which included vegetation indices (VIs) and texture analysis (TA). Each group of data was used to model the amount of harvested volume both independently and in combination. Our results indicated that the composition of all spectral bands can improve the accuracy of all models of average volume by 23.52 RMSE reduction and total volume by 33.57 RMSE reduction. This method demonstrated that monitoring and extrapolation of the calculated relation and results from smaller forested areas could be applied as an automatic remote-based supervised monitoring method over larger forest areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessArticle
Changes in Forest Net Primary Productivity in the Yangtze River Basin and Its Relationship with Climate Change and Human Activities
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(12), 1451; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11121451 - 19 Jun 2019
Abstract
Net Primary Productivity (NPP) is a basis of material and energy flows in terrestrial ecosystems, and it is also an important component in the research on carbon cycle and carbon budget. This paper evaluated the spatial distribution pattern and temporal change trends for [...] Read more.
Net Primary Productivity (NPP) is a basis of material and energy flows in terrestrial ecosystems, and it is also an important component in the research on carbon cycle and carbon budget. This paper evaluated the spatial distribution pattern and temporal change trends for forest NPP simulated by the LPJ (Lund-Potsdam-Jena) model and NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) in the Yangtze River basin from 1982 to 2013. The results revealed that: (1) the spatial distribution of the forest NPP and NDVI in the Yangtze River basin has gradually decreased from the southeast coast to the northwest. The forest NPP and NDVI in the mid-lower Yangtze were higher than that of the upper Yangtze; (2) the forest NPP and NDVI in most areas of the Yangtze River basin were positively correlated with the temperature and precipitation. Moreover, the correlations among the temperature with the forest NPP and NDVI were stronger than that of correlations among precipitation with forest NPP and NDVI. Moreover, the extreme drought event in the year of 2004–2005 led the NPP to decrease in the middle and lower Yangtze River basin; (3) human activity such as major ecological projects would have a certain impact on the NPP and NDVI. The increase in forest areas from 2000 to 2010 was larger than that from 1990 to 2000. Moreover, the increasing rate for the NDVI was higher than that of NPP, especially after the year 2000, which indicates that the major ecological projects might have great impacts on the vegetation dynamics. Moreover, more attention should be paid on the joint impacts of human activity and climate change on terrestrial NPP and NDVI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessLetter
Precipitation-Sensitive Dynamic Threshold: A New and Simple Method to Detect and Monitor Forest and Woody Vegetation Cover in Sub-Humid to Arid Areas
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(8), 1231; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12081231 - 12 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Remote-sensing tools and satellite data are often used to map and monitor changes in vegetation cover in forests and other perennial woody vegetation. Large-scale vegetation mapping from remote sensing is usually based on the classification of its spectral properties by means of spectral [...] Read more.
Remote-sensing tools and satellite data are often used to map and monitor changes in vegetation cover in forests and other perennial woody vegetation. Large-scale vegetation mapping from remote sensing is usually based on the classification of its spectral properties by means of spectral Vegetation Indices (VIs) and a set of rules that define the connection between them and vegetation cover. However, observations show that, across a gradient of precipitation, similar values of VI can be found for different levels of vegetation cover as a result of concurrent changes in the leaf density (Leaf Area Index—LAI) of plant canopies. Here we examine the three-way link between precipitation, vegetation cover, and LAI, with a focus on the dry range of precipitation in semi-arid to dry sub-humid zones, and propose a new and simple approach to delineate woody vegetation in these regions. By showing that the range of values of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) that represent woody vegetation changes along a gradient of precipitation, we propose a data-based dynamic lower threshold of NDVI that can be used to delineate woody vegetation from non-vegetated areas. This lower threshold changes with mean annual precipitation, ranging from less than 0.1 in semi-arid areas, to over 0.25 in mesic Mediterranean area. Validation results show that this precipitation-sensitive dynamic threshold provides a more accurate delineation of forests and other woody vegetation across the precipitation gradient, compared to the traditional constant threshold approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Forest Change with Remote Sensing)
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