, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 423–435 | Cite as

Fine-Scale Monitoring of Long-term Wetland Loss Using LiDAR Data and Historical Aerial Photographs: the Example of the Couesnon Floodplain, France

  • Sébastien RapinelEmail author
  • Bernard Clément
  • Simon Dufour
  • Laurence Hubert-Moy
Original Research


Wetland area has decreased in most parts of the world and remains threatened by human pressures. However, wetland loss is difficult to accurately detect, delineate and quantify. While wetland distribution is influenced mainly by landform, LiDAR data provide accurate digital elevation models that can be used to delineate wetlands. Our objective was to map wetland loss at a fine-scale using LiDAR data and historical aerial photographs based on a functional typology that identifies potential, existing and efficient wetlands. The study focused on a 132 km2 site with valley bottom wetlands located in western France. Boundaries of potential wetlands were extracted from a LiDAR-derived Digital Terrain Model that was standardized according to channel network elevation. We identified existing wetlands using interpretation of aerial photographs acquired in 1952, 1978 and 2012. We used multiple correspondence analysis to identify different types of wetland loss. Results show that potential wetlands were successfully delineated at 1:5000 (88–90% overall accuracy) and that 14% of existing wetland area was lost. This highlights the importance of identifying “negotiation areas” where wetland restoration is a priority. The results also reveal two main types of wetland loss based on area, geomorphic context, land cover and period of loss.


Conservation Digital terrain model Environmental management Remote sensing Wetland delineation 



This study was funded by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Zone Atelier program) and the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development (CarHAB program). The authors are grateful to Jean Nabucet (LETG Rennes) for his help with fieldwork.


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Rennes 2, CNRS, UMR LETGRennes CedexFrance
  2. 2.Université Rennes 1, CNRS, UMR ECOBIORennes CedexFrance

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