Mapping forest growth and degradation stage in the Brigalow Belt Bioregion of Australia through integration of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat-derived foliage projective cover data

Lucas, Richard M., Clewley, Daniel, Accad, Arnon, Butler, Don, Armston, John, Bowen, Michiala, Bunting, Peter, Carreiras, Joao, Dwyer, John, Eyre, Teresa, Kelly, Annie, McAlpine, Clive, Pollock, Sandy and Seabrook, Leonie (2014) Mapping forest growth and degradation stage in the Brigalow Belt Bioregion of Australia through integration of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat-derived foliage projective cover data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 155 42-57. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2013.11.025

Author Lucas, Richard M.
Clewley, Daniel
Accad, Arnon
Butler, Don
Armston, John
Bowen, Michiala
Bunting, Peter
Carreiras, Joao
Dwyer, John
Eyre, Teresa
Kelly, Annie
McAlpine, Clive
Pollock, Sandy
Seabrook, Leonie
Title Mapping forest growth and degradation stage in the Brigalow Belt Bioregion of Australia through integration of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat-derived foliage projective cover data
Journal name Remote Sensing of Environment   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0034-4257
Publication date 2014-01-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2013.11.025
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 155
Start page 42
End page 57
Total pages 16
Place of publication New York, NY United States
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 1111 Soil Science
1907 Geology
1903 Computers in Earth Sciences
Abstract Differentiation of forest growth stages through classification of single date or time-series of Landsat sensor data is limited because of insensitivity to their three-dimensional structure. This study therefore evaluated the benefits of integrating the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) L-band HH and HV polarisation response from the woody components of vegetation with Landsat-derived foliage projective cover (FPC). Focus was on 12 regional ecosystems (REs) distributed across the Brigalow Belt Bioregion (BRB) of Queensland, Australia, where different stages of growth dominated by brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) were widespread. From remnant areas of brigalow-dominated forests mapped previously for each RE by the Queensland Herbarium through field visits and interpretations of aerial imagery, frequency distributions of all three channels were extracted and compared to those of image segments generated using FPC and PALSAR data. For woody vegetation (with an FPC threshold of ≥ 9%) outside of the remnant areas, mature (non-remnant) forests were associated with segments where the HH and HV backscatter thresholds were within one standard deviation of the mean extracted for remnant forest. Early-stage regrowth was differentiated using an L-band HH threshold of <- 14 dB, common for all REs because of similarities in structure at this stage. The early-stage included forests regrowing over several decades and often occurred in areas recovering from recent clearing events. Objects falling between the early and mature stages were considered to be intermediate regrowth and/or degraded forest. All areas with an FPC < 9% were mapped as non-forest. Within the BRB, the Queensland Herbarium established that forests with brigalow as a dominant or subdominant component originally occupied over 7.3 million ha but were reduced to 586,364 ha by 2009, with 460,499 ha (78.5%) having brigalow as the dominant component. Using the Landsat FPC and ALOS PALSAR data, an additional 722,686 ha of brigalow-dominated regrowth forest were identified giving a total forested area (brigalow-dominated remnant and secondary forest) of 1,183,185 ha or 17.2% of the area of the 12 REs. Within this area, the greater proportion of regrowth (368,473 ha or 31.1%) was mapped as early stage primarily because of recovery following recent clearance events. 230,551 (19.5%) ha and 123,662 ha (10.5%) were mapped as intermediate and mature (non-remnant) stages respectively and the remainder (38.9%) was remnant forest. Users' and producers' accuracies were, respectively, 81% and 69% for early regrowth and 71% and 89% for mature and intermediate stage forests combined. The mapping, which used Queensland Herbarium's RE data to delineate brigalow extent, provided a structural, rather than age-based classification of growth stage, as is typically retrieved using time-series comparison of optical imagery. The regional estimates of growth/degradation stage generated for the BRB provide a basis for optimising the use and recovery of these threatened brigalow ecosystems with benefits for biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
Keyword Biodiversity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
Official 2015 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 12 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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