Estimating and examining the sensitivity of different vegetation indices to fractions of vegetation cover at different scaling Grids for Early Stage Acacia Plantation Forests Using a Fixed-Wing UAS


Understanding the information on land conditions and especially green vegetation cover is important for monitoring ecosystem dynamics. The fraction of vegetation cover (FVC) is a key variable that can be used to observe vegetation cover trends. Conventionally, satellite data are utilized to compute these variables, although computations in regions such as the tropics can limit the amount of available observation information due to frequent cloud coverage. Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) have become increasingly prominent in recent research and can remotely sense using the same methods as satellites but at a lower altitude. UASs are not limited by clouds and have a much higher resolution. This study utilizes a UAS to determine the emerging trends for FVC estimates at an industrial plantation site in Indonesia, which utilizes fast-growing Acacia trees that can rapidly change the land conditions. First, the UAS was utilized to collect high-resolution RGB imagery and multispectral images for the study area. The data were used to develop general land use/land cover (LULC) information for the site. Multispectral data were converted to various vegetation indices, and within the determined resolution grid (5, 10, 30 and 60 m), the fraction of each LULC type was analyzed for its correlation between the different vegetation indices (Vis). Finally, a simple empirical model was developed to estimate the FVC from the UAS data. The results show the correlation between the FVC (acacias) and different Vis ranging from R2 = 0.66–0.74, 0.76–0.8, 0.84–0.89 and 0.93–0.94 for 5, 10, 30 and 60 m grid resolutions, respectively. This study indicates that UAS-based FVC estimations can be used for observing fast-growing acacia trees at a fine scale resolution, which may assist current restoration programs in Indonesia.


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