An Approach to Mapping Forest Growth Stages in Queensland, Australia through Integration of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat Sensor Data

Daniel Clewley*, Richard Lucas, Arnon Accad, John A. Armston, Michaela Bowen, John Dwyer, Sandy Pollock, Peter Bunting, Clive McAlpine, Teresa Eyre, Annie Kelly, Joao Carreiras, Mahta Moghaddam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Whilst extensive clearance of forests in the eastern Australian Brigalow Belt Bioregion (BBB) has occurred since European settlement, appropriate management of those that are regenerating can facilitate restoration of biomass (carbon) and biodiversity to levels typical of relatively undisturbed or remnant formations. However, maps of forests are different stages of regeneration are needed to facilitate restoration planning, including prevention of further re-clearing. Focusing on the Tara Downs subregion of the BBB and on forests with brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) as a component, this research establishes a method for differentiating and mapping early, intermediate and remnant growth stages from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased-Array L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) Fine Beam Dual (FBD) L-band HH- and HV-polarisation backscatter and Landsat-derived Foliage Projective Cover (FPC). Using inventory data collected from 74 plots, located in the Tara Downs subregion, forests were assigned to one of three regrowth stages based on their height and cover relative to that of undisturbed stands. The image data were then segmented into objects with each assigned to a growth stage by comparing the distributions of L-band HV and HH polarisation backscatter and FPC to that of reference distributions using a z-test. Comparison with independent assessments of growth stage, based on time-series analysis of aerial photography and SPOT images, established an overall accuracy of >70%, with this increasing to 90% when intermediate regrowth was excluded and only early-stage regrowth and remnant classes were considered. The proposed method can be adapted to respond to amendments to user-definitions of growth stage and, as regional mosaics of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat FPC are available for Queensland, has application across the state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2236-2255
Number of pages20
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 02 Aug 2012


  • Queensland
  • foliage projective cover
  • regrowth mapping
  • brigalow
  • classification
  • land cover change
  • Australia
  • synthetic aperture radar


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