Estimating aboveground woody biomass change in Kalahari woodland: combining field, radar, and optical data sets

Vladimir R. Wingate, Stuart R Phinn, Nikolaus Kuhn, Peter Scarth
2017 International Journal of Remote Sensing  
Maps that accurately quantify aboveground vegetation biomass (AGB) are essential for ecosystem monitoring and conservation. Throughout Namibia, four vegetation change processes are widespread, namely, deforestation, woodland degradation, the encroachment of the herbaceous and grassy layers by woody strata (woody thickening), and woodland regrowth. All of these vegetation change processes affect a range of key ecosystem services, yet their spatial and temporal dynamics and contributions to AGB
more » ... tributions to AGB change remain poorly understood. This study quantifies AGB associated with the different vegetation change processes over an eight-year period, for a region of Kalahari woodland savannah in northern Namibia. Using data from 101 forest inventory plots collected during two field campaigns (2014-2015), we model AGB as a function of the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR and PALSAR-2) and dry season Landsat vegetation index composites, for two periods (2007 and 2015). Differences in AGB between 2007 and 2015 were assessed and validated using independent data, and changes in AGB for the main vegetation processes are quantified for the whole study area (75,501 km 2 ). We find that woodland degradation and woody thickening contributed a change in AGB of -14.3 Tg and 2.5 Tg over 14% and 3.5% of the study area, respectively. Deforestation and regrowth contributed a smaller portion of AGB change, i.e. -1.9 Tg and 0.2 Tg over 1.3% and 0.2% of the study area, respectively.
doi:10.1080/01431161.2017.1390271 fatcat:ptdx6f3bczdibnsy7sdiatw66m