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Lake Maggiore - Italy, 3-6 April 2000

The potential contribution of SPOT 4/VEGETATION data for mapping Siberian forest cover at the continental scale

S. Bartalev (1), F. Achard (1), D. Erchov (2) and V. Gond (1)
(1) Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
I-21020 Ispra (VA), Italy TP 440
+39-0332-786396, fax +39-0332-789073, E-mail:
(2) International Forest Institute
117418, 69 Novocheriomushkinskaya str., Moscow, Russia
( +7-095-332 68 77, fax +7-095-332 29 17, E-mail:

Paper (pdf file, 189 k)

The most recent national Russian vegetation map (i.e. covering the full territory of Russia) was published in 1990 at the scale of 1:2,500,000 (Isaev et al., 90). This map was produced from the compilation of more detailed information (inventories or maps) from various sources at different dates and with heterogeneous accuracy. For example for the Siberian North-eastern regions, the map has been derived from the spatial aggregation of visual interpretations made from aerial surveys taken in the 1950’s. Many changes in the forest cover have occurred since this period, as a consequence of natural or human-made fires, clear-cutting, insect damages and following regrowth/regeneration processes. In spite that these forests have not a large economical value, their role on the biosphere, including in the carbon cycle, is thought to be rather important.

New opportunities of getting a consistent and up-to-date forest map of Siberia are provided by the SPOT-4/VEGETATION data due to their spectral, repetitiveness and geometric characteristics well related to the issues to be solved.

A feasability study for forest mapping at the Siberian scale has been carried out using a long time series of S-10 products during the vegetative growing season: from beginning of March 1999 untill end of November 1999 covering the boreal zone of Siberia (from 42 N to 75 N and 5 E to 180E). A preliminary visual comparison between the existing Russian vegetation map and Summer mosaics of S-10 products images has already shown significant discrepancies in the map due either to initial map inaccuracies or to changes which occurred from the date of the map.

For this boreal forest mapping study at continental scale, the separability of the main forest types is investigated. These main forest types are identified by dominant tree species, such as larch (Larix spp.), spruce (Picea sibirica) and scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), … A set of locations representative of these main forest classes has been selected over the Siberian region from a few georeferenced forest maps derived from SPOT – HRV imagery. The spectral (temporal signatures) and ancillary (from inventory databases) attributes over these locations are identified and compared to each other. The separability of the classes is assessed from this comparison. The feasibility of boreal forest mapping at continental scale is further discussed.