Near real-time change detection system using Sentinel-2 and machine learning: a test for Mexican and Colombian forests

Pacheco-Pascagaza, Ana María; Gou, Yaqing; Louis, Valentin; Roberts, John F.; Rodríguez-Veiga, Pedro; da Conceição Bispo, Polyanna; Espírito-Santo, Fernando D.B.; Robb, Ciaran; Upton, Caroline; Galindo, Gustavo; Cabrera, Edersson; Pachón Cendales, Indira Paola; Castillo Santiago, Miguel Angel; Carrillo Negrete, Oswaldo; Meneses, Carmen; Iñiguez, Marco; Balzter, Heiko. 2022 Near real-time change detection system using Sentinel-2 and machine learning: a test for Mexican and Colombian forests [in special issue: Vegetation dynamics and forest structure monitoring based on multisensor approaches] Remote Sensing, 14 (3), 707. 21, pp.

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The commitment by over 100 governments covering over 90% of the world’s forests at the COP26 in Glasgow to end deforestation by 2030 requires more effective forest monitoring systems. The near real-time (NRT) change detection of forest cover loss enables forest landowners, government agencies and local communities to monitor natural and anthropogenic disturbances in a much timelier fashion than the thematic maps that are released every year. NRT deforestation alerts enable the establishment of more up-to-date forest inventories and rapid responses to unlicensed logging. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites provide operational Earth observation (EO) data from multi-spectral optical/near-infrared wavelengths every five days at a global scale and at 10 m resolution. The amount of acquired data requires cloud computing or high-performance computing for ongoing monitoring systems and an automated system for processing, analyzing and delivering the information promptly. Here, we present a Sentinel-2-based NRT change detection system, assess its performance over two study sites, Manantlán in Mexico and Cartagena del Chairá in Colombia, and evaluate the forest changes that occurred in 2018. An independent validation with very high-resolution PlanetScope (~3 m) and RapidEye (~5 m) data suggests that the proposed NRT change detection system can accurately detect forest cover loss (> 87%), other vegetation loss (> 76%) and other vegetation gain (> 71%). Furthermore, the proposed NRT change detection system is designed to be attuned using in situ data. Therefore, it is scalable to larger regions, entire countries and even continents.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2072-4292
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: near real-time, vegetation change detection, machine learning, deforestation, tropical forests
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Computer Science
Data and Information
Date made live: 25 Mar 2022 12:40 +0 (UTC)

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