Classification of nemoral forests with fusion of multi-temporal sentinel-1 and 2 data

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Mapping forest extent and forest cover classification are important for the assessment of forest resources in socio-economic as well as ecological terms. Novel developments in the availability of remotely sensed data, computational resources, and advances in areas of statistical learning have enabled the fusion of multi-sensor data, often yielding superior classification results. Most former studies of nemoral forests fusing multi-sensor and multi-temporal data have been limited in spatial extent and typically to a simple classification of landscapes into major land cover classes. We hypothesize that multi-temporal, multi-sensor data will have a specific strength in the further classification of nemoral forest landscapes owing to the distinct seasonal patterns in the phenology of broadleaves. This study aimed to classify the Danish landscape into forest/non-forest and further into forest types (broadleaved/coniferous) and species groups, using a cloud-based approach based on multi-temporal Sentinel 1 and 2 data and a random forest classifier trained with National Forest Inventory (NFI) data. Mapping of non-forest and forest resulted in producer accuracies of 99% and 90%, respectively. The mapping of forest types (broadleaf and conifer) within the forested area resulted in producer accuracies of 95% for conifer and 96% for broadleaf forest. Tree species groups were classified with producer accuracies ranging 34–74%. Species groups with coniferous species were the least confused, whereas the broadleaf groups, especially Quercus species, had higher error rates. The results are applied in Danish national accounting of greenhouse gas emissions from forests, resource assessment, and assessment of forest biodiversity potentials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number950
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

    Research areas

  • Forest and tree species distribution, Forest resources, Machine learning, Multi-sensor data fusion, National Forest Inventory data

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