Multi-temporal forest change detection in central Sumatra
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Forest conversion to oil palm plantations and development in central Sumatra has been rampant over the past two decades. Home to critically endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger and Sumatran elephant, continued forest loss in this region will likely be detrimental to its unique wildlife. In this study, I use Landsat imagery from the past 20 years to determine how much native forest has been lost in a small subset of Riau Province, a potential stronghold for tigers and elephants. Landsat images were collected every 2-3 years, where possible, to track rapid deforestation events. Images were atmospherically corrected using the dark object subtraction method (DOS) and geometrically corrected using rivers and roads shape files. Image differencing was conducted for sequential images. Changes from 2005 and 2007 images were compared to the results of from a post-classification change analysis, using classified images provided by Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry. Results show that forest loss has occurred over every time step. With species such as tiger already being relegated to a scattering of protected areas over the landscape, these results suggest that continued forest loss may result in patches too small to maintain viable populations of Indonesia’s most charismatic and biologically important species.