Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 731–741 | Cite as

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

  • Shijo JosephEmail author
  • M. S. R. Murthy
  • A. P. Thomas
Original Article


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 



The authors are sincerely thankful to P. S. Roy, Edward J Milton, Ben Smith, Shivam Trivedi, and George Alan Blackburn for their encouragement and beneficial discussions, and Kathryn Sund for editing the manuscript, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the previous version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shijo Joseph
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • M. S. R. Murthy
    • 2
  • A. P. Thomas
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Natural ResourcesInternational Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)EnschedeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Forestry and Ecology DivisionNational Remote Sensing Centre, Indian Space Research OrganizationHyderabadIndia
  3. 3.School of Environmental SciencesMahatma Gandhi UniversityKottayamIndia
  4. 4.Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)BangaloreIndia

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