The timely and accurate monitoring of forest resources is becoming of increasing importance in light of the multi-functionality of these ecosystems and their increasing vulnerability to climate change. Remote sensing observations of tree cover and systematic ground observations from National Forest Inventories (NFIs) represent the two major sources of information to assess forest area and use. The specificity of two methods is calling for an in-depth analysis of their strengths and weaknesses and for the design of novel methods emerging from the integration of satellite and surface data. On this specific debate, a recent paper by Breidenbach et al. published in this journal suggests that the detection of a recent increase in EU forest harvest rate—as reported in Nature by Ceccherini et al.—is largely due to technical limitations of satellite-based mapping. The article centers on the difficulty of the approaches to estimate wood harvest based on remote sensing. However, it does not discuss issues with the robustness of validation approaches solely based on NFIs. Here we discuss the use of plot data as a validation set for remote sensing products, discussing potentials and limitations of both NFIs and remote sensing, and how they can be used synergistically. Finally, we highlight the need to collect in situ data that is both relevant and compatible with remote sensing products within the European Union.
Remote Sensing; Forestry; National Forest Inventories; Global Forest Change; Validation
Ceccherini, G., Duveiller, G., Grassi, G. et al. Potentials and limitations of NFIs and remote sensing in the assessment of harvest rates: a reply to Breidenbach et al.. Annals of Forest Science 79, 31 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13595-022-01150-y
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