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Applied Geomatics

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 113–121

First Online: 23 July 2010Received: 26 August 2009Accepted: 27 June 2010


The changes in forest cover in many parts of the world lead to increase the accumulation of atmospheric carbon and thus accelerate the process of global warming. Optical remote sensing has been used to map and quantify deforestation but its application is limited because of the presence of cloud coverage on the images. Recent availability of several space-borne synthetic aperture radar SAR missions has widened the scope of utilizing radar images for monitoring of forest cover change. The objective of this investigation is to examine the capability of SAR data to assess and map deforestation. The study area is located at the tropical forest region of southeastern Bangladesh. Shuttle Imaging Radar-C SIR-C data of 1994 and Advanced Land Observation Satellite ALOS PALSAR data of 2007 were used in this study. ALOS PALSAR data were orthorectified with Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission digital elevation model data. Image to image geometric registration was done between the two SAR scenes. Study area was clipped and separated as subsets. SIR-C data L- and C-bands was in dual polarization HH and HV and PALSAR L-band was in quad-polarization HH, HV, VH, and VV. Five different categories of land covers forest, upland soil-shrubs, lowland soil, settlements, and water-wetlands were recognized on both SAR scenes. An additional class representing forest re-growth could be identified only on SIR-C image. Both the images were classified using maximum likelihood algorithms. The classification accuracy was computed from the randomly selected independent validation pixels. The accuracy for forest is more than 83% except users accuracy computed for PALSAR image. Forest was reduced from 18,000 to 13,800 ha in the region during the study period. The results of this study will be useful for understanding the applicability of SAR to map and quantify forest cover changes in the tropics.

KeywordsForest Deforestation Mapping SIR-C PALSAR An erratum to this article can be found at

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Author: M. Mahmudur Rahman - Josaphat Tetuko Sri Sumantyo


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