August 2019 Science You Can Use (in 5 min)
Faced with limited funds and resources, how do land and resource managers prioritize restoration efforts that cover millions of acres of public and private land? It’s a question that’s been asked repeatedly in the southeastern United States, where the U.S. Forest Service and its partners have committed to restoring millions of acres of longleaf pine ecosystems. These ecosystems, which are home to dozens of species of conservation concern, cover less than 5 percent of their historic range.
More than a thousand miles away from the edge of this historic range, scientists from the Rocky Mountain Research Station have found a way to help answer this question. They’ve developed a landscape classification system that’s faster, more detailed, and less expensive than previously used methods. Described in several papers recently published in the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) International Journal of Geo-Information, the system combines aerial photography and satellite data, field plot data, and spatial analysis software developed by RMRS scientists to help classify landscapes at a one-square-meter resolution.