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Data from: Synergetic use of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 for assessments of heathland conservation status

Cite this dataset

Schmidt, Johannes et al. (2018). Data from: Synergetic use of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 for assessments of heathland conservation status [Dataset]. Dryad.


Habitat quality assessments often demand wall-to-wall information about the state of vegetation. Remote sensing can provide this information by capturing optical and structural attributes of plant communities. Although active and passive remote sensing approaches are considered as complementary techniques, they have been rarely combined for conservation mapping. Here, we combined spaceborne multispectral Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-1 SAR data for a remote sensing-based habitat quality assessment of dwarf shrub heathland, which was inspired by nature conservation field guidelines. Therefore, three earlier proposed quality layers representing (1) the coverage of the key dwarf shrub species, (2) stand structural diversity and (3) an index reflecting co-occurring vegetation were mapped via linking in situ data and remote sensing imagery. These layers were combined in an RGB-representation depicting varying stand attributes, which afterwards allowed for a rule-based derivation of pixel-wise habitat quality classes. The links between field observations and remote sensing data reached correlations between 0.70 and 0.94 for modeling the single quality layers. The spatial patterns shown in the quality layers and the map of discrete quality classes were in line with the field observations. The remote sensing based mapping of heathland conservation status showed an overall agreement of 76% with field data. Transferring the approach in time (applying a second set of Sentinel 1 and 2 data) caused a decrease in accuracy to 73%. Our findings suggest that Sentinel-1 SAR contains information about vegetation structure that is complimentary to optical data and therefore relevant for nature conservation. While we think that rule-based approaches for quality assessments offer the possibility for gaining acceptance in both communities applied conservation and remote sensing, there is still need for developing more robust and transferable methods.

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