Near real time detection of deforestation in French Guiana

Marie Ballère started in October 2018 a Ph.D. funded by WWF and CNES. The aim of her Ph.D. is to characterize animal habitats in tropical forest using radar and optical data. The first results on near real time forest disturbances assessment using radar Sentinel-1 data in French Guiana were shown at the ESA Living Planet Symposium 2019 in Milano, and they are striking !

 

The near real time forest disturbances detection method used by Marie has been described in Bouvet et al. (2018) and successfully tested over a test site in Peru. Classical methods are based on the hypothesis that the radar backscatter decreases when disturbances occur. However, the backscatter does not necessarily decrease, because rainfalls and/or trees remaining on the ground for example, lead to an increase of radar backscatter.

 

To get around this problem, the method from Bouvet et al. (2018) is based on the detection of radar shadowing. Shadowing occurs in radar images because of the particular side-looking viewing geometry of radar systems. A shadow in a radar image is an area that cannot be reached by any radar pulse. Shadows created by trees at the borders between forest and non-forest areas can be observed in high-resolution radar images (Figure 1), depending on the viewing direction. Shadows that appear are characterized by a sudden drop of backscatter in the radar time series. Thanks to the purely geometrical nature of the shadowing effects, this decrease of backscatter is expected to be persistent over time. New shadows should consequently remain visible for a long time and are easily detectable when dense time series of radar data, such as Sentinel-1 time series, are available.

Figure 1 Illustration of the SAR shadowing effect at the border between forests and deforested areas

 

This method has been tested over various sites in South American, African and Asian tropical forests for three years now and significantly improved. Marie Ballère participated to the improvement of the method, applied it over the whole French Guiana using Sentinel-1 data acquired from 2016 to 2018, and validated the resulting maps. Slashing deforestation (farming method that involves the cutting and burning of trees) detection has been validated using 94 reference data (surface area of 48.2 ha) kindly shared by Pierre Joubert and Eloise Grebic from the Parc Amazonien de Guyane. Producer and user accuracies related to disturbed forests reached 83% and 99% respectively. Gold mining detection has been validated using 36 reference data (surface area of 76 ha), leading to producer and user accuracies of 86% and 99% respectively.

 

In addition, we compared our results with the deforestation patches detected in the University of Maryland (UMD) Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) Forest Alert dataset (Hansen et al., 2016), a Landsat-based humid tropical forest disturbance alert system over the tropics (http://glad.geog.umd.edu/alerts). Producer accuracies of 24% and 44% were found for slashing deforestation and gold mining respectively. A small area showing the comparison between the CESBIO and UMD-GLAD methods is shown in the maps in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Comparison between the CESBIO and UMD-GLAD near real time forest disturbances detection methods in French Guiana in 2018. Gold mining reference plots are shown in green. Producer accuracies of 86% and 44% were found using the CESBIO and UMD-GLAD respectively

Figure 3 shows the number of disturbed areas detected per month using the CESBIO and UMD-GLAD methods (note that disturbed plots that were not detected using the UMD-GLAD method were not taken into account). Slashing deforestation, occurring mainly during the dry season, was detected timely using both methods. However, because clouds hamper the GLAD optical-based forest disturbances detection during the rainy season, gold mining occurring all year long was detected 72±58 days in advance using the CESBIO method.

Figure 3 Slashing deforestation, occurring mainly during the dry season, was detected timely using CESBIO and UMD-GLAD methods. Gold mining occurring all year long was detected 72±58 days in advance using the CESBIO method

Figure 4 Forest disturbances detection using the CESBIO method in French Guiana from 2016 to 2018

The CESBIO method has been applied over the whole French Guiana for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 (Figure 4). The deforestation rates were found to be -0.7%, -0.5% and -0.5% respectively, relatively to French Guyana area.

 

A lot of exciting research can now be performed based on these results (e.g. for understanding the causes related to the spatial and temporal evolution of disturbances patterns). In addition, Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data are being currently used by Marie to identify the drivers of deforestation.

References:
  • Bouvet, A., Mermoz, S., Ballère, M., Koleck, T., & Le Toan, T. (2018). Use of the SAR Shadowing Effect for Deforestation Detection with Sentinel-1 Time Series. Remote Sensing, 10(8), 1250.
  • Hansen, M. C., Krylov, A., Tyukavina, A., Potapov, P. V., Turubanova, S., Zutta, B., ... & Moore, R. (2016). Humid tropical forest disturbance alerts using Landsat data. Environmental Research Letters, 11(3), 034008.

4 thèses en cours à Toulouse pour étudier les forêts tempérées par télédétection

Le pôle toulousain de recherche publique en télédétection est surtout connu sur la thématique forestière grâce à la mission BIOMASS, qui sera lancée vers 2021 et qui est portée par le CESBio, mais qui concerne surtout les forêts tropicales. L’objectif de cet article est de présenter les travaux en cours sur les forêts tempérées, dans le contexte de la France métropolitaine, qui sont portées en synergie par l’UMR Dynafor (collègues INRA, Ensat et EI Purpan) et par l’UMR CESBio. En effet, 4 thèses sont actuellement en cours dont 2 qui seront soutenues fin 2019. Le point commun à ces 4 thèses comme aux travaux qui les ont précédées est l’utilisation de séries temporelles, d’abord basse résolution (Modis), puis, depuis 2015, en haute résolution spatiale avec Sentinel 1 et 2 (‘S1’ et ‘S2’).

 

Différence de phenologie entre chênes

Figure 1. Différences de phénologie entre espèces de chênes.

Continue reading

Les conséquences de la sécheresse de l'an dernier en Provence sont toujours visibles en 2018 sur les images de Sentinel-2

=>

En rentrant de nos vacances dans les Alpes, nous avons passé une journée près des gorges du Verdon, le grand Canyon européen (je sais, il y a une différence d'échelle avec l'Américain).  Ceci dit, le paysage était superbe, comme vous pouvez le voir dans le panorama ci-dessous.

Panorama depuis le "point sublime" (et modeste)

 

 

Mais ne vous inquiétez pas, je ne vais pas vous parler ici de mes aventures estivales, je réserve cela pour les collègues à l'heure du repas, et je pense que les deux premiers de la semaine leur ont suffi.

 

Allons au fait, j'ai par la même occasion remarqué un grand nombre de pins desséchés, voire morts, ce qui m'a étonné parce que la région a été relativement humide ce printemps et début d'été. J'ai demandé au gens du coin, qui m'ont dit que c'est la sécheresse de l'été et l'automne 2017 en Provence qui en est la cause, particulièrement dans les zones où la roche est juste sous la surface et la profondeur du sol est très faible..

Continue reading