Habitat reporting of a heathland site: Classification probabilities as additional information, a case study

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Ecological Informatics, Volume 5, Number 4, p.248 - 255 (2010)




Heterogeneity, Hyperspectral, Patch, remote sensing, Uncertainty, Vegetation


Heathlands are man-made habitats and their decline during the last century can be contributed to shifts in both agricultural and management practices as well as to hydrological and atmospheric changes. As a result, many heathland sites, including the Kalmthoutse Heide in Belgium, were included in the European Natura 2000 program, a network of protected areas across the European Union. To assure an accurate mapping of the Kalmthoutse Heide and other Natura 2000 sites in Belgium a classification framework for habitat status reporting with remote sensing data and in particular high resolution hyperspectral imagery was started. In this study we propose a simple and fast context based method for mapping heathland heterogeneity using the intermediate, otherwise redundant, classification probabilities as generated by a hard classification algorithm. Our study proved to be successful in using intermediate classification probabilities as a valuable source of ecological information. The delineated areas have been shown to be statistically sound and robust compared to a neutral model. The technique is not limited to a particular hard classification technique and can easily be adopted into current vegetation monitoring efforts. The resulting maps provided accessible maps which can support management of the protected site and enhance the accuracy of EU reportage as required by the habitat directive.

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