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Satellite estimation of tropical secondary forest above-ground biomass: data from Brazil and Bolivia

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This paper reports on a test of the ability to estimate above-ground biomass of tropical secondary forest from canopy spectral reflectance using satellite optical data. Landsat Thematic Mapper data were acquired concurrent with field surveys conducted in secondary forest fallows near Manaus, Brazil and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Measurements of age and above-ground live biomass were made in 34 regrowth stands. Satellite data were converted to surface reflectances and compared with regrowth stand age, biomass and structural variables. Among the Brazilian stands, significant relationships were observed between middle-infrared reflectance and stand age, height, volume and biomass. The canopy reflectance-biomass relationship saturated at around 15.0 kg m-2, or over 15 years of age (r > 0.80, p < 0.01). In the Bolivian study area, no significant relationship between canopy spectral reflectance and biomass was observed. These contrasting results are probably caused by a low Sun angle during the satellite measurements from Bolivia. However, regrowth structural and general compositional differences between the two study areas could explain the lack of a significant relationship in Bolivia. The results demonstrate a current potential for biomass estimation of secondary forests with satellite optical data in some, but not all, tropical regions. A discussion of the potential for regional extrapolation of spectral relationships and future satellite imagery is included.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-04-15

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