Sentinels accelerate monitoring of forest change

Published on
March 24, 2017

ESA news highlight: Researchers of the Change Detection and Monitoring team at the University of Wageningen showed that when combining observations from multiple sensors, deforestation was detected with a higher spatial and temporal accuracy than when using observations from a single sensor.

Celebrated today, the International Day of Forests raises awareness on the importance of forests globally. Some 30% of Earth's land surface is covered by forests. Every minute, an area of forest equal to ten football fields is lost (FAO FRA 2015).

Deforestation examples include conversion of forestland for the expansion of agriculture plantations, farms, ranches, or urban use.

Every year, some 3.3 million hectares of forest is lost worldwide – an area about the size of Greece. The most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical regions, and although the rate of loss has slowed down in recent years, it remains high.

By contrast, 'forest degradation' is a gradual process where biomass declines and its species composition changes. Degradation often precedes deforestation.