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An estimate of forest cover extent and change in Jamaica using Landsat MSS data

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Landsat Multispectral Scanner (MSS) data were used to derive an island-wide estimate of forest extent and change for Jamaica for the period 1987-1992. The study demonstrates how Landsat MSS data provide an invaluable resource for monitoring tropical forest change when, as in this study, a simple classification of forest versus non-forest is made. Using a broad definition of forest cover and a hybrid unsupervised/supervised classification, the study derived an average per annum island-wide deforestation rate of 3.9% for this period. This estimate was then compared to existing estimates for the island and its reasonabless argued for in view of the latter's limitations and the study's own accuracy assessment. By providing a broad snapshot of the rate of forest loss on the island, it is hoped that this study's country-wide estimate will highlight the severity of the deforestation problem to scientists and policy-makers, and will provide the basis for more detailed forest classification studies of the island.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 15, 2002

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