Mapping tropical forest fractional cover from coarse spatial resolution remote sensing imagery

Giles M. Foody, Richard M. Lucas, Paul J. Curran, Miroslav Honzak

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37 Citations (SciVal)


At regional to global scales the only feasible approach to mapping and monitoring forests is through the use of coarse spatial resolution remotely sensed imagery. Significant errors in mapping may arise as such imagery may be dominated by pixels of mixed land cover composition which cannot be accommodated by conventional mapping approaches. This may lead to incorrect assessments of forest extent and thereby processes such as deforestation which may propagate into studies of environmental change. A method to unmix the class composition of image pixels is presented and used to map tropical forest cover in part of the Mato Grosso, Brazil. This method is based on an artificial neural network and has advantages over other techniques used in remote sensing. Fraction images depicting the proportional class coverage in each pixel were produced and shown to correspond closely to the actual land cover. The predicted and actual forest cover were, for instance, strongly correlated (up to τ = 0.85, significant at the 99% level of confidence) and the predicted extent of forest over the test site much closer to the actual extent than that derived from a conventional approach to mapping from remotely sensed imagery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • artificial neural networks
  • fraction images
  • remote sensing
  • tropical forests
  • Artificial neural networks
  • Tropical forests
  • Fraction images
  • Remote sensing


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