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Satellite Change Detection of Forest Harvest Patterns on an Industrial Forest Landscape

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Multiple dates of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery were analyzed to compare a decade of forest harvest activity in northern Maine's industrial forest. Unsupervised clustering on three-date sequences of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index classified the harvest type and time period when change occurred. Problematic clusters were reclassified using the Normalized Difference Moisture Index, which improved the detection of light partial harvests. The procedure classified clearcuts and partial cuts in all time periods with at least 80% agreement with 250 reference sample points. Patch characteristics of the harvest areas revealed a shift from large clearcuts in the late 1980s and early 1990s to fewer and smaller clearcuts in the middle to late 1990s. By the late 1990s, large clearcuts (>40 ha) were eliminated, and partial cuts increased in size. Partial cuts affected more land area than did clearcuts in all time periods. Comparison of harvest patches between the two largest landowners in the study area revealed significant differences in the number and distance between clearcut harvest areas. The trends in decreasing clearcut harvesting practices over the past decade appear to have been influenced by forestry legislation, according to the results of this study and an independent report by the Maine Forest Service. The changing harvest patterns on the landscape were detectable on time-series satellite imagery. FOR. SCI. 49 (3):341–353.

Keywords: Satellite remote sensing; environmental management; forest; forest change detection; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; harvest patch metrics; natural resource management; natural resources; normalized difference vegetation index

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Forest Resources University of Maine, 260 Nutting Hall, Orono, ME, 04469-5755, Phone: (207) 581-2845; Fax: (207)-581-2875 sader@umenfa.maine.edu 2: Developer Imany, 537 Congress Street, Portland, ME, 04101, Phone: (207) 774-3244 mailto:mbertrand@imany.com 3: Research Assistant Laboratory of Earth Resource Information Systems, Department of Natural Resources Management and Engineering, University of Connecticut, 1376 Storrs Road, Box U-87 Storrs, CT, 06269-4087, Phone: (860) 486-4610 ewilson@canr.uconn

Publication date: June 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
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