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Review article2008Peer reviewed

Combining national forest inventory field plots and remote sensing data for forest databases

Tomppo, Erkki; Olsson, Hakan; Stahl, Goran; Nilsson, Mats; Hagner, Olle; Katila, Matti


Information about forest cover is needed by all of the nine societal benefit areas identified by the Group of Earth Observation (GEO). In particular, the biodiversity and ecosystem areas need information on landscape composition, structure of forests, species richness, as well as their changes. Field sample plots from National Forest Inventories (NFI) are, in combination with satellite data, a tremendous resource for fulfilling these information needs. NFIs have a history of almost 100 years and have developed in parallel in several countries. For example, the NFIs in Finland and Sweden measure annually more than 10,000 field plots with approximately 200 variables per plot. The inventories are designed for five-year rotations. In Finland nationwide forest cover maps have been produced operationally since 1990 by using the k-NN algorithm to combine satellite data, field sample plot information, and other georeferenced digital data. A similar k-NN database has also been created for Sweden. The potentials of NFIs to fulfil diverse information needs are currently analyzed also in the COST Action E43 project of the European Union. In this article, we provide a review of how NFI field plot information has been used for parameterization of image data in Sweden and Finland, including pre-processing steps like haze correction, slope correction, and the optimization of the estimation variables. Furthermore, we review how the produced small-area statistics and forest cover data have been used in forestry, including forest biodiversity monitoring and habitat modelling. We also show how remote sensing data can be used for post-stratification to derive the sample plot based estimates, which cannot be directly estimated from the spectral data. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


national forest inventory; k-NN estimation; post-stratification; biodiversity monitoring; habitat modelling; satellite images

Published in

Remote Sensing of Environment
2008, Volume: 112, number: 5, pages: 1982-1999 Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC