Satellite based monitoring of the national forest resources in the pacific island state of Vanuatu
Deforestation of tropical forests contributes a significant amount to the global greenhouse gas emissions. International discussions are currently underway within the UNFCCC to build incentives for developing countries to protect their national forest resources and thereby reduce or avoid deforestation and the resulting carbon emissions. To assist this policy development process, a number of related case studies are ongoing to test different carbon credit approaches. This paper summarizes the outcomes of a study that is part of the Vanuatu Carbon Credits Project. The remote sensing component of the project aims to develop a historical deforestation database for the pacific island state Vanuatu based on historical satellite observations. The analysis was based on Landsat, ASTER and SPOT imagery for the time steps 1990 and 2000. Image classification and change detection was applied to map in a wall-to-wall approach the forest cover for the year 2000, to assess the forest changes for the period from 1990 to 2000 and to derive the historical deforestation rates for the individual islands. The observed deforestation rate in Vanuatu is comparatively low, but the proven technical approach could be directly transferred to other national circumstances in the south pacific region and beyond.