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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Nation-wide clear-cut mapping in Sweden using ALOS PALSAR strip images

Santoro, Maurizio; Pantze, Andreas; Fransson, Johan; Dahlgren, Jonas; Persson, Anders


Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array L-band type Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) backscatter images with 50 m pixel size (strip images) at HV-polarization were used to map clear-cuts at a regional and national level in Sweden. For a set of 31 clear-cuts, on average 59.9% of the pixels within each clear-cut were correctly detected. When compared with a one-pixel edge-eroded version of the reference dataset, the accuracy increased to 88.9%. With respect to statistics from the Swedish Forest Agency, county-wise clear-felled areas were underestimated by the ALOS PALSAR dataset (between 25% and 60%) due to the coarse resolution. When compared with statistics from the Swedish National Forest Inventory, the discrepancies were larger, partly due to the estimation errors from the plot-wise forest inventory data. In Sweden, for the time frame of 2008–2010, the total area felled was estimated to be 140,618 ha, 172,532 ha and 194,586 ha using data from ALOS PALSAR, the Swedish Forest Agency and the Swedish National Forest Inventory, respectively. ALOS PALSAR strip images at HV-polarization appear suitable for detection of clear-felled areas at a national level; nonetheless, the pixel size of 50 m is a limiting factor for accurate delineation of clear-felled areas.


ALOS PALSAR; radar backscatter; boreal forest; deforestation; clear-cuts; Sweden; Kyoto & Carbon Initiative

Published in

Remote Sensing
2012, Volume: 4, number: 6, pages: 1693-1715