Forests cover more than twice the agricultural surface area, a total of 3,400 millions hectares, which represents slightly less than 27 % of the land surface (excluding Greenland and the Antarctic), of which 57% is in developing, mostly tropical countries. However, these two types of land occupation and use are in opposition with each other from many points of view: potential of the land, soil appropriation methods, management techniques, players involved, needs expressed, local or national issues, etc.
However, the major changes to the global environment taking place on our planet and the dangers associated with a sufficient food supply tend to associate these two land surfaces (agricultural and forest), which are now presented as two intimately linked factors and part of the major issues concerning integrated ("sustainable") management of the future. For forestry, the principal challenge in years to come will be to find a balance between economics and ecology - the real issue will be to satisfy growing demand for forest-based products while safeguarding the forests’ ability to provide a range of ecological services.
The major fields of application for which satellite data will provide relevant information are associated with the main functions of the forest, which are the production of wood, the ecological function of protecting the environment and its concern with global changes, and the social function.
Irrespective of the forest-related topics, the products created from SPOT data are in widespread use. The new capabilities of the Pleiades system, particularly those of the radar sensors, should make it possible to extract geophysical parameters and supplementary information.