Original Article

Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 731-741

First online:

The progress on remote sensing technology in identifying tropical forest degradation: a synthesis of the present knowledge and future perspectives

  • Shijo JosephAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resources, International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi UniversityAshoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) Email author 
  • , M. S. R. MurthyAffiliated withForestry and Ecology Division, National Remote Sensing Centre, Indian Space Research Organization
  • , A. P. ThomasAffiliated withSchool of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University

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Since the launch of the first satellite in 1972, ecologists have been equipped with new tools to address the degradation of tropical forests, previously limited by field-based methods. This article is a review of the state of remote sensing technology in characterizing the degradation of tropical forest. The factors responsible for the structural and functional degradation of the tropical forest and its likely impacts are described in view of generating remote sensing based inputs. In order to assess the degradation and utility of geo-informatics tools, 32 parameters are identified. The research developments at different levels of information extraction from the historic to recent periods are elaborated, and future challenges are predicted. The article concludes that an additional momentum of research is required to answer many unresolved questions of tropical forest degradation.


Remote sensing Tropical forest Degradation Scale Multispectral Hyperspectral