Background and Objectives

The scope of the Forest DRAGON project is to generate on a regional basis forest base maps from the ERS-1/2 tandem and JERS-1 missions, and updated versions from Envisat ASAR data.

Within a previous ESA project, MACFERST, the possibility of using ERS-1/2 tandem data was evaluated for forestry applications in China. Interferometric Land Use (ILU) images at quick look level have been used, providing accurate information for forest/non-forest mapping in North-East China. The limited quality of the ILUs and the partial coverage of China limited the generation of forest base maps for larger areas of China.

In the Forest DRAGON project, the synergy between ERS coherence and JERS backscatter will be exploited for mapping the two most important forest regions of China. At first the generation of a classified biomass map covering all forests in the North-East is planned.

The methodology applied will follow the well-established classification approach developed during the CEO SIBERIA project. Following the requirements of Chinese foresters, the forest base map will be provided at 50 m pixel size. Envisat ASAR Alternating Polarisation (AP) data are foreseen for the production of a forest/non-forest map in order to provide an update to the forest base map.

Additionally the potential of repeat-pass ASAR Image Mode (IM) data will be evaluated. At a second stage mapping of forests in South-East of China will be carried out. Because of the relevant forest diversity and the mostly wet weather conditions, biomass mapping using ERS and JERS data seems to be less feasible. Nonetheless, a study for biomass classification using the SIBERIA algorithm will be carried out. Alternately a forest/non-forest map, with four classes (rice, plantation, bush-forest and forest) will be considered. ASAR AP images will be used. The base map will be provided at 50 m pixel size. The availability of detailed forest inventory at several test sites in both regions will allow developing forest mapping and biomass estimation algorithms to be used for large-scale mapping and forest inventory at local scale.

Additionally, a possible third phase of the project will consider the generation of a forest/non-forest map for the Central region of China. For this purpose Wide Swath ASAR data at 100 m pixel size will be used. The final products together with local in situ information will be integrated into GIS. This will provide a unique reference for forest resources information systems and new information for climate change issues (carbon budget and Kyoto protocol) in one of the most changing regions of the Earth.

Furthermore, the transfer of technical know-how for processing capabilities and establishment of in situ network for validation of processing algorithms and EO-products will be fundamental issues of the project.