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Generation of fuel type maps from Landsat TM images and ancillary data in Mediterranean ecosystems

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This paper presents methods to generate fuel type maps from remote sensing data at a spatial and temporal scale adequate for operational fire management applications. Fuel type maps account for structural characteristics of vegetation related to fire behaviour and fire propagation. A fuel type classification system adapted to the ecological characteristics of the European Mediterranean basin was adopted for this study. The Cabañeros National Park (in central Spain) area was selected for testing and validating the methods. Fuel type maps were derived from two Landsat TM satellite images and digital elevation data. Atmospheric and topographic corrections of the satellite images were performed to reduce spectral variability. A sensitivity analysis was carried out to determine the most appropriate bands for fuel type mapping. The final classification was checked by an intense field survey, the final classification accuracy being estimated at 83%. The main problem was discriminating among those fuel types that differ only in vegetation height or composition of the understory layer. The mean mapping accuracy was 15 m (0.6 pixels), and no areal discrepancy or boundary displacement with vegetation maps was apparent.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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