EU-wide maps of growing stock and above-ground biomass in forests based on remote sensing and field measurements
The overall objective of this study was to combine national forest inventory data and remotely sensed data to produce pan-European maps on growing stock and above-ground woody biomass for the two species groups “broadleaves” and “conifers”. An automatic up-scaling approach making use of satellite remote sensing data and field measurement data was applied for EU-wide mapping of growing stock and above-ground biomass in forests. The approach is based on sampling and allows the direct combination of data with different measurement units such as forest inventory plot data and satellite remote sensing data. For the classification, data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) were used. Comprehensive field measurement data from national forest inventories for 98,979 locations from 16 countries were used for which tree species and growing stock estimates were available. The classification results were evaluated by comparison with regional estimates derived independently from the classification from national forest inventories. The validation at the regional level shows a high correlation between the classification results and the field based estimates with correlation coefficient r = 0.96 for coniferous, r = 0.94 for broadleaved and r = 0.97 for total growing stock per hectare. The mean absolute error of the estimations is 25 m3/ha for coniferous, 20 m3/ha for broadleaved and 25 m3/ha for total growing stock per hectare. Biomass conversion and expansion factors were applied to convert the growing stock classification results to carbon stock in above-ground biomass. As results of the classification, coniferous and broadleaved growing stock as well as carbon stock of the above-ground biomass is mapped on a wall-to-wall basis with a spatial resolution of 500 m × 500 m per grid cell. The mapped area is 5 million km2, of which 2 million km2 are forests, and covers the whole European Union, the EFTA countries, the Balkans, Belarus, the Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.