Mapping Land Cover and Tree Canopy Cover in Zagros Forests of Iran: Application of Sentinel-2, Google Earth, and Field Data
Reza Jaafari, Mohammad
Oliva, Patricia [Univ Mayor, Fac Ciencias, Escuela Ingn Forestal, Hemera Ctr Observac Tierra, Chile]
The Zagros forests in Western Iran are valuable ecosystems that have been seriously damaged by human interference (harvesting the wood and forest sub-products, converting the forests to the agricultural lands, and grazing) and natural events (drought events and fire). In this study, we generated accurate land cover (LC), and tree canopy cover percentage (TCC%) maps for the forests of Shirvan County, a part of Zagros forests in Western Iran using Sentinel-2, Google Earth, and field data for protective management. First, we assessed the accuracy of Google Earth data using 300 random field plots in 10 different land cover types. For land cover mapping, we evaluated the performance of four supervised classification algorithms (minimum distance (MD), Mahalanobis distance (MaD), neural network (NN), and support vector machine (SVM)). The accuracy of the land cover maps was assessed using a set of 150 stratified random plots in Google Earth. We mapped the forest canopy cover by using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) map, and field plots. We calculated the Pearson correlation between the NDVI values and the TCC% (obtained from field plots). The linear regression between the NDVI values and the TCC% was used to obtain the predictive model of TCC% based on the NDVI. The results showed that Google Earth data yielded an overall accuracy of 94.4%. The SVM algorithm had the highest accuracy for the classification of Sentinel-2 data with an overall accuracy of 81.33% and a kappa index of 0.76. The results of the forest canopy cover analysis showed a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.93 between the NDVI and TCC%, which is highly significant. The results also showed that the linear regression model is a good predictive model for TCC% estimation based on the NDVI (r(2)= 0.864). The results can be used as a baseline for decision-makers to monitor land cover change in the region, whether produced by human activities or natural events and to establish measures for protective management of forests.
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