Accuracy assessments of local and global forest change data to estimate annual disturbances in temperate forests

Katsuto Shimizu, Tetsuji Ota, Nobuya Mizoue

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Forest disturbances are generally estimated using globally available forest change maps or locally calibrated disturbance maps. The choice of disturbance map depends on the trade-offs among the detection accuracy, processing time, and expert knowledge. However, the accuracy differences between global and local maps have still not been fully investigated; therefore, their optimal use for estimating forest disturbances has not been clarified. This study assesses the annual forest disturbance detection of an available Global Forest Change map and a local disturbance map based on a Landsat temporal segmentation algorithm in areas dominated by harvest disturbances. We assess the forest disturbance detection accuracies based on two reference datasets in each year. We also use a polygon-based assessment to investigate the thematic accuracy based on each disturbance patch. As a result, we found that the producer's and user's accuracies of disturbances in the Global Forest Change map were 30.1-76.8% and 50.5-90.2%, respectively, for 2001-2017, which corresponded to 78.3-92.5% and 88.8-97.1%, respectively in the local disturbance map. These values indicate that the local disturbance map achieved more stable and higher accuracies. The polygon-based assessment showed that larger disturbances were likely to be accurately detected in both maps; however, more small-scale disturbances were at least partially detected by the Global Forest Change map with a higher commission error. Overall, the local disturbance map had higher forest disturbance detection accuracies. However, for forest disturbances larger than 3 ha, the Global Forest Change map achieved comparable accuracies. In conclusion, the Global Forest Change map can be used to detect larger forest disturbances, but it should be used cautiously because of the substantial commission error for small-scale disturbances and yearly variations in estimated areas and accuracies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2438
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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