September 19, 2014

The forest and its ecological function

This involves two major concerns:

Environmental protection

At the present time, environmental protection is an essential issue, beyond the objective of regular wood production. In a global context where the environment, and tropical forests in particular, appear to be seriously threatened, forest management is a mean of guaranteeing the protection of biodiversity and sustainable management. The forest manager's first step is to analyse the environment in order to identify and map all natural elements, particularly those that are noteworthy, rare or threatened. The Pleiades data will thus be supplying observations for:

  • protection of the soil, preservation of water resources and protection from desertification by locating forest clumps and types, tree plantation structure and environmental conditions,
  • the management of fire risk by risk assessment (flammability, combustibility), fire monitoring and damage mapping,
  • monitoring of environmental indicators measuring biological diversity, monitoring of forest cover, etc.

Global change

forests and woodlands represent the largest component of present and future land use in terms of surface area, and play an important role in the global carbon balance. Global change has, and will continue to have, major repercussions on forest cover. Forests are communities with a long life; rapid changes in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 and the increase in temperature associated with climatic changes will probably have an important effect not only on future forests but on those that already exist. Current modifications to forest coverage caused by the social and economic agents of global change will merge with the modifications of these bio-physical agents. Satellite data from the Pleiades program will provide the information required to predict the interactive effects of global change on forests, by supplying information on the following:

  • monitoring of variations in forest cover (deforestation, reforesting, planting, etc.),
  • biomass monitoring,
  • how ecosystems work and the interactions between the different components of the ecosystem (soil, plants, atmosphere), carbon cycle, water cycle, biophysical parameters (Leaf Area Index, etc.), etc.