Recent Shift of Deforestation to High Elevation Areas from 2001 to 2013 in Borneo Detected by MODIS Data

Friday, 19 December 2014
Rikie Suzuki and Shin Nagai, JAMSTEC Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Kanagawa, Japan
The biomass of tropical forests sequestrates tons of carbon and plays an important role in the global carbon cycle regulating the climate. Also its high biodiversity ecosystems bring us many valuable resources and cultural and educational ecosystem services. However, large areas of the tropical forest are deforested and converted to oil palm or acacia plantation for the economic benefit of the local society mainly in Southeast Asia. Monitoring of the tropical forest from satellites provides us the information about the deforestation for decadal time period over extensive areas and enables us to discuss it from a scientific point of view. The purpose of this study is to reveal the interannual change and recent trend of deforestation in relation to the land elevation for decadal time period over Borneo by using data from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).   We acquired the atmospherically corrected and cloud free Terra-MODIS and Aqua-MODIS daily data products (MOD09GA and MYD09GA; collection 5) from 2001 to 2013 for Borneo. We extracted the pixel values in the 500m surface reflectance bands 1 (red) and 4 (green) products and calculated the green–red vegetation index (GRVI), (band 4 – band 1) / (band 4 + band 1), at a daily time step. GRVI shows a positive value for the land prevailed by green vegetation, while it shows a negative value for the land prevailed by no-green components such as bare land. As for the elevation data, ASTER Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM) which has 33.3m spatial resolution was employed. The original resolution was resampled to the grid system of MODIS data (i.e. 500m resolution).   Pixels which had a negative GRVI ratio more than 80 % (termed as “no green pixel”) in each year were regarded as the land characterized by no vegetation, and mapped the distribution for each year. Throughout the 13 years, no green pixels mainly found over the coastal low land below 20m of the elevation and the area was almost constant (around 3000km2). It is considered the deforestation for the plantations generally occurred over the easy access low lands. By contrast, it was obvious that no green pixels extended their distribution up to high elevation (20 to 120m) areas mainly after 2006. This trend suggests recent development of the plantation has been extended to relatively inland and high elevation areas.