Remotely sensed data has been a preferred tool for quantifying and mapping woody cover due to its capabilities on wider coverage, revisiting capacity and its cost effectiveness compared to field conventional methods. Researchers from the Council of Scientific Research in South Africa (CSIR) in collaboration with the Southern African Service Center for Adaptive Climate (SASSCAL) implemented a 2 years project to assess woody cover using LIDAR and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite data in Northern Namibia. The strips of airborne LiDAR data were collected for planning and monitoring of infrastructure such as power lines, roads and rail roads and provided to CSIR for the purposes of this project. The LiDAR data are used to measure woody vegetation structure in great detail to develop models which then map woody vegetation structure with the SAR satellite across the entire country. The maps provide detail on local woody vegetation patterns and changes between years.
The objective of this research project is to develop a system which can map and monitor woody vegetation cover and biomass at national scale. Bush encroachment is seen as a contributing factor in rangeland degradation, hence developing suitable methods to quantify and monitor the extent of bush encroachment is important for managing rangelands and assessing biomass potential. Currently bush thinning efforts are carried out without detailed analysis or reliable maps of woody vegetation to aid planning. Through developed models such as the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), data can be useful in quantifying woody biomass and identifying bush thinned areas. The project aimed to provide information through maps on the on the ground.
Read more about the Project here