Assessment of deforestation in the Lower Amazon floodplain using historical Landsat MSS/TM imagery



Renó VF, Novo EMLdM, Suemitsu C, Rennó CD & Silva TSF (2011) Assessment of deforestation in the Lower Amazon floodplain using historical Landsat MSS/TM imagery. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115 (12), pp. 3446-3456.

The floodplain forests bordering the Amazon River have outstanding ecological, economic, and social importance for the region. However, the original distribution of these forests is not well known, since they have suffered severe degradation since the 16th century. The previously published vegetation map of the Amazon River floodplain (Hess et al., 2003), based on data acquired in 1996, shows enormous difference in vegetation cover classes between the regions upstream and downstream of the city of Manaus. The upper floodplain is mostly covered by forests, while the lower floodplain is predominantly occupied by grasses and shrubs. This study assesses deforestation in the Lower Amazon floodplain over a ~ 30 year period by producing and comparing a historical vegetation map based on MSS/Landsat images acquired in the late 1970s with a recent vegetation map produced from TM/Landsat images obtained in 2008. The maps were generated through the following steps: 1) normalization and mosaicking of images for each decade; 2) application of a linear mixing model transformation to produce vegetation, soil and shade fraction-images; and 3) object-oriented image analysis and classification. For both maps, the following classes were mapped: floodplain forest, non-forest floodplain vegetation, bare soil and open water. The two maps were combined using object-level Boolean operations to identify time transitions among the mapped classes, resulting in a map of the land cover change occurred over ~ 30 years. Ground information collected at 168 ground points was used to build confusion matrices and calculate Kappa indices of agreement. A survey strategy combining field observations and interviews allowed the collection of information about both recent and historical land cover for validation purposes. Kappa values (0.77, 0.75 and 0.75) indicated the good quality of the maps, and the error estimates were used to adjust the estimated deforested area to a value of 3457 km2 ± 1062 km2 (95% CI) of floodplain deforestation over the ~ 30 years.

Amazon; Deforestation; Floodplain forest; Land cover change; Landsat; Object-oriented analysis

Remote Sensing of Environment: Volume 115, Issue 12

FundersBrazilian National Research Council
Publication date15/12/2011
Publication date online20/09/2011
Date accepted by journal12/08/2011
PublisherElsevier Inc.

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Dr Thiago Silva

Dr Thiago Silva

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences