University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Plant Sciences Research Seminars > Seeing forests from new heights: Applying recently developed satellite imagery analysis technologies to monitor tropical forest protected areas

Seeing forests from new heights: Applying recently developed satellite imagery analysis technologies to monitor tropical forest protected areas

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Just over the past half year, the field of remote sensing for forest monitoring has witnessed a number of revolutionary developments; we are now navigating an exciting era of space-based forest monitoring in which free, moderate-resolution images of our entire planet have become increasingly accessible to the public at large. In this presentation, I first explore three different land classification-based approaches to forest monitoring in order to demonstrate a range of methodologies currently in practice that employ remotely sensed satellite images to inform forest conservation efforts. I then apply one of these methodologies to quantify spatial patterns in deforestation across a representative global network of tropical forest protected areas and, further, relate these spatial deforestation patterns with ecosystem health indices associated with each reserve. I find that, globally, deforestation rates outside of tropical forest protected areas since 2000 have exceeded those inside their administrative boundaries, an indication of the relative efficacy of tropical forest reserves in at least tempering drastic land-cover changes within the areas that they enclose. However, I also find that, globally, positive deforestation rates both inside and outside tropical forest protected areas significantly correlate with declining ecosystem health. Overall, my research offers insight into the general performance of protected areas in tropical forests worldwide, while simultaneously demonstrating the utility in applying recently developed satellite imagery analysis technologies to conduct tropical forest conservation studies on a global scale.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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