Monitoring changes in forest health across the urban-rural transition using multi-source data

Authors: Mitchell Bonney*, University of Toronto - Mississauga, Yuhong He, University of Toronto - Mississauga
Topics: Remote Sensing, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: Remote sensing, forest health, data fusion, landscape ecology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Lafayette, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Temperate forests, especially in urban and other human-influenced areas, are under stress from both natural and anthropogenic disturbances. In southern Ontario, modern examples include emerald ash borer outbreak that is currently devastating ash tree populations and ice storm damage (i.e., 1998, 2013). Human development and encroachment is also a constant pressure, along with recent efforts to reinvigorate forests through urban forest management plans and other municipal policies. Our research aims to utilize remote sensing platforms at a variety of spatial resolutions to monitor forest health changes across the Credit Valley Watershed (CVW) west of Toronto, which consists of fragmented urban forest cover in the south and larger natural forests in the north interspersed with agricultural land. Landsat Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) trend analysis, which serves as a baseline platform for this study, indicates that forest health has decreased in the CVW, especially since the early 2000s. High resolution satellite imagery, LiDAR and aerial photography provide the opportunity to analyze changes at the individual tree level in areas where multiple images are available. In addition, hemispherical photography measurements collected at a variety of forest community types across the watershed will provide ground validation for remote sensing results. The data fusion of these multi-source remote sensing platforms, combined with historical information on the specific location and timing of forest disturbances across the CVW, allow for a comprehensive spatial understanding of the drivers behind forest health changes occurring along this urban-rural transition in southern Ontario since the early 1980s.

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