Monitoring clearcutting and subsequent rapid recovery in Mediterranean coppice forests with Landsat time series

Key message This work analyses the rate of recovery of the spectral signal from clearcut areas of coppice Mediterranean forests using Landsat Time Series (LTS). The analysis revealed a more rapid rate of spectral signal recovery than what was found in previous investigations in boreal and temperate forests.
Context The rate of post-disturbance vegetation recovery is an important component of forest dynamics.
Aims In this study, we analyze the recovery of the spectral signal from forest clearcut areas in Mediterranean conditions when the coppice system of forest management is applied.
Methods We used LTS surface reflectance data (1999–2015).We generated an annual reference database of clearcuts using visual interpretation and local forest inventory data, and then derived the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) spectral trajectories for these clearcuts. From these spectral trajectories, we calculated the Years to Recovery or Y2R, the number of years it takes for a pixel to return to within a specified threshold (i.e., 70%, 80%, 90%, 100%) of its pre-disturbance value. Spectral recovery rates were then corroborated using measures of canopy height derived from airborne laser scanning (ALS) data.
Results The coppice system is associated with rapid recovery rates when compared to rates of recovery from seeds or seedlings in temperate and boreal forest conditions. We found that the Y2R derived from the spectral trajectories of post-clearcut NBR and NDVI provided similar characterizations of rapid recovery for the coppice system of forest management applied in our study area. The ALS measures of canopy height indicated that the Y2R metric accurately captured the rapid regeneration of coppice systems.
Conclusion The rapid rate of spectral recovery associated with the coppice system is 2–4 years, which contrasts with values reported in boreal and temperate forest environments, where spectral recovery was attained in approximately 10 years. NBR is an effective index for assessing rapid recovery in this forest system.

Landsat, Forest disturbances, Clearcut, Time series analysis, Remote sensing, Disturbance recovery, Mediterranean forest, Vegetation index, LiDAR, Optical time series images, Satellite images, Coppice

Chirici, G., Giannetti, F., Mazza, E. et al. Monitoring clearcutting and subsequent rapid recovery in Mediterranean coppice forests with Landsat time series. Annals of Forest Science 77, 40 (2020).

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Data availability
The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the Zenodo repository.

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