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MODIS NDVI time-series allow the monitoring of Eucalyptus plantation biomass

Le Maire G., Marsden C., Nouvellon Y., Grinand C., Hakamada R., Stape J.L., Laclau J.P.. 2011. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115 (10) : p. 2613-2625.

DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2011.05.017

The use of remote sensing is necessary for monitoring forest carbon stocks at large scales. Optical remote sensing, although not the most suitable technique for the direct estimation of stand biomass, offers the advantage of providing large temporal and spatial datasets. In particular, information on canopy structure is encompassed in stand reflectance time series. This study focused on the example of Eucalyptus forest plantations, which have recently attracted much attention as a result of their high expansion rate in many tropical countries. Stand scale time-series of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were obtained from MODIS satellite data after a procedure involving un-mixing and interpolation, on about 15,000 ha of plantations in southern Brazil. The comparison of the planting date of the current rotation (and therefore the age of the stands) estimated from these time series with real values provided by the company showed that the root mean square error was 35.5 days. Age alone explained more than 82% of stand wood volume variability and 87% of stand dominant height variability. Age variables were combined with other variables derived from the NDVI time series and simple bioclimatic data by means of linear (Stepwise) or nonlinear (Random Forest) regressions. The nonlinear regressions gave r-square values of 0.90 for volume and 0.92 for dominant height, and an accuracy of about 25 m3/ha for volume (15% of the volume average value) and about 1.6 m for dominant height (8% of the height average value). The improvement including NDVI and bioclimatic data comes from the fact that the cumulative NDVI since planting date integrates the interannual variability of leaf area index (LAI), light interception by the foliage and growth due for example to variations of seasonal water stress. The accuracy of biomass and height predictions was strongly improved by using the NDVI integrated over the two first years after planting, which are critical for stand establishment. These results open perspectives for cost-effective monitoring of biomass at large scales in intensively-managed plantation forests.

Mots-clés : eucalyptus; plantations; biomasse; indice de surface foliaire; plantation forestière; zone tropicale; modèle mathématique; télédétection; sao paulo

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