FOREST TREE SPECIES DISTRIBUTION MAPPING USING LANDSAT SATELLITE IMAGERY AND TOPOGRAPHIC VARIABLES WITH THE MAXIMUM ENTROPY METHOD IN MONGOLIA
Keywords: Tree species mapping, Landsat imagery, Maximum Entropy, Terrain variable, Mongolia
Abstract. Forest is a very important ecosystem and natural resource for living things. Based on forest inventories, government is able to make decisions to converse, improve and manage forests in a sustainable way. Field work for forestry investigation is difficult and time consuming, because it needs intensive physical labor and the costs are high, especially surveying in remote mountainous regions. A reliable forest inventory can give us a more accurate and timely information to develop new and efficient approaches of forest management. The remote sensing technology has been recently used for forest investigation at a large scale. To produce an informative forest inventory, forest attributes, including tree species are unavoidably required to be considered.
In this study the aim is to classify forest tree species in Erdenebulgan County, Huwsgul province in Mongolia, using Maximum Entropy method. The study area is covered by a dense forest which is almost 70% of total territorial extension of Erdenebulgan County and is located in a high mountain region in northern Mongolia. For this study, Landsat satellite imagery and a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) were acquired to perform tree species mapping. The forest tree species inventory map was collected from the Forest Division of the Mongolian Ministry of Nature and Environment as training data and also used as ground truth to perform the accuracy assessment of the tree species classification. Landsat images and DEM were processed for maximum entropy modeling, and this study applied the model with two experiments. The first one is to use Landsat surface reflectance for tree species classification; and the second experiment incorporates terrain variables in addition to the Landsat surface reflectance to perform the tree species classification. All experimental results were compared with the tree species inventory to assess the classification accuracy. Results show that the second one which uses Landsat surface reflectance coupled with terrain variables produced better result, with the higher overall accuracy and kappa coefficient than first experiment. The results indicate that the Maximum Entropy method is an applicable, and to classify tree species using satellite imagery data coupled with terrain information can improve the classification of tree species in the study area.