Resource Communication: ForestAz - Using Google Earth Engine and Sentinel data for forest monitoring in the Azores Islands (Portugal)

Keywords: Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, Copernicus, Vegetation Indices, Forest Mapping, Forest Management, Aboveground Carbon


Aim of study: ForestAz application was developed to (i) map Azorean forest areas accurately through semiautomatic supervised classification; (ii) assess vegetation condition (e.g., greenness and moisture) by computing and comparing several spectral indices; and (iii) quantitatively evaluate the stocks and dynamics of aboveground carbon (AGC) sequestrated by Azorean forest areas.

Area of study: ForestAz focuses primarily on the Public Forest Perimeter of S. Miguel Island (Archipelago of the Azores, Portugal), with about 3808 hectares.

Material and methods: ForestAz was developed with Javascript for the Google Earth Engine platform, relying solely on open satellite remote sensing data, as Copernicus Sentinel-1 (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and Sentinel-2 (multispectral).

Main results: By accurately mapping S. Miguel island forest areas using a detailed species-based vegetation mapping approach; by allowing frequent and periodic monitoring of vegetation condition; and by quantitatively assessing the stocks and dynamics of AGC by these forest areas,  this remote sensing-based application may constitute a robust and low-cost operational tool able to support local/regional decision-making on forest planning and management.

Research highlights: This collaborative initiative between the University of the Azores and the Azores Regional Authority in Forest Affairs was selected to be one of the 99 user stories by local and regional authorities described in the catalog edited by the European Commission, the Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies (NEREUS Association), and the European Space Agency (ESA).


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How to Cite
Fernández-UrrutiaM., & GilA. (2022). Resource Communication: ForestAz - Using Google Earth Engine and Sentinel data for forest monitoring in the Azores Islands (Portugal). Forest Systems, 31(2), eRC01.
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