Carbon sink estimation and ecological assessment of forests require accurate forest type mapping. The traditional survey method is time consuming and labor intensive, and the remote sensing method with high-resolution, multi-spectral commercial satellite images has high cost and low availability. In this study, we explore and evaluate the potential of freely-available multi-source imagery to identify forest types with an object-based random forest algorithm. These datasets included Sentinel-2A (S2), Sentinel-1A (S1) in dual polarization, one-arc-second Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission Digital Elevation (DEM) and multi-temporal Landsat-8 images (L8). We tested seven different sets of explanatory variables for classifying eight forest types in Wuhan, China. The results indicate that single-sensor (S2) or single-day data (L8) cannot obtain satisfactory results; the overall accuracy was 54.31% and 50.00%, respectively. Compared with the classification using only Sentinel-2 data, the overall accuracy increased by approximately 15.23% and 22.51%, respectively, by adding DEM and multi-temporal Landsat-8 imagery. The highest accuracy (82.78%) was achieved with fused imagery, the terrain and multi-temporal data contributing the most to forest type identification. These encouraging results demonstrate that freely-accessible multi-source remotely-sensed data have tremendous potential in forest type identification, which can effectively support monitoring and management of forest ecological resources at regional or global scales.
Liu, Y., Gong, W., Hu, X., & Gong, J. (2018). Forest type identification with random forest using Sentinel-1A, Sentinel-2A, multi-temporal Landsat-8 and DEM data. Remote Sensing, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10060946