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Remote Sensing for Ecology and ConservationA Handbook of Techniques$
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Ned Horning, Julie A. Robinson, Eleanor J. Sterling, Woody Turner, and Sacha Spector

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199219940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199219940.001.0001

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Measuring and Monitoring Land Cover, Land use, and Vegetation Characteristics

Measuring and Monitoring Land Cover, Land use, and Vegetation Characteristics

(p.81) 4 Measuring and Monitoring Land Cover, Land use, and Vegetation Characteristics
Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation

Ned Horning

Julie A. Robinson

Eleanor J. Sterling

Woody Turner

Sacha Spector

Oxford University Press

In terrestrial biomes, ecologists and conservation biologists commonly need to understand vegetation characteristics such as structure, primary productivity, and spatial distribution and extent. Fortunately, there are a number of airborne and satellite sensors capable of providing data from which you can derive this information. We will begin this chapter with a discussion on mapping land cover and land use. This is followed by text on monitoring changes in land cover and concludes with a section on vegetation characteristics and how we can measure these using remotely sensed data. We provide a detailed example to illustrate the process of creating a land cover map from remotely sensed data to make management decisions for a protected area. This section provides an overview of land cover classification using remotely sensed data. We will describe different options for conducting land cover classification, including types of imagery, methods and algorithms, and classification schemes. Land cover mapping is not as difficult as it may appear, but you will need to make several decisions, choices, and compromises regarding image selection and analysis methods. Although it is beyond the scope of this chapter to provide details for all situations, after reading it you will be able to better assess your own needs and requirements. You will also learn the steps to carry out a land cover classification project while gaining an appreciation for the image classification process. That said, if you lack experience with land cover mapping, it always wise to seek appropriate training and, if possible, collaborate with someone who has land cover mapping experience (Section 2.3). Although the terms “land cover” and “land use” are sometimes used interchangeably they are different in important ways. Simply put, land cover is what covers the surface of the Earth and land use describes how people use the land (or water). Examples of land cover classes are: water, snow, grassland, deciduous forest, or bare soil.

Keywords:   agriculture, band math, classification accuracy, detector, electromagnetic radiation, footprint, image photoproducts, land covers, mapping, observation

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