Combining monitoring tactics detects additional Sumatran forest loss

By on August 28, 2012
Sumatran canopy

Researchers monitoring Sumatran forest loss found that combining monitoring methods showed deforestation that a single traditional method missed, according to a report from Environmental Research Web.

The researchers combined maps derived from satellite imagery and GIS fragmentation analysis. Forest loss is commonly mapped from satellite images, but Sumatra’s clouds and quickly regenerating undergrowth can make logging difficult to detect, said Arunarwati Margono of South Dakota University and the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia. GIS fragmentation helps researchers detect these otherwise-missed areas.

The team also used the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System on board the IceSat-1 Satellite to corroborate their data according to the article. Margono said their method is easy to replicate and hopes to use Sumatra as a template for future studies.

Sumatra is the second most deforested tropical nation, but forest degradation declined over time, according to the study. From 1990 to 2000, Sumatra lost 7.34 million hectares of forest. The country lost 2.51 million hectares during the next ten years. A decrease in degradation could in part, be due to a smaller sampling area resulting from previous deforestation.

The research is published in Environmental Research Letters.

Image: Sumatran forest canopy (Credit: Sarang, via Wikimedia Commons)

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