Tropical rain forests are the most complex, varied, and species-rich terrestrial ecosystems on earth. However, these unique forests are more and more threatened by human activities. About half of the originally forested area has been deforested in the past decades and the pressure on today’s remaining rain forests is still growing.
The German-Indonesian research project STORMA (“Stability of Rainforest Margins in Indonesia”) analyses the causes, circumstances, and consequences of rain forest conversion. In its survey area in Central Sulawesi (Indonesia), vast areas of intact rain forest still exist but are currently facing increasing exploitation by the rural population. Especially the expansion of cultivation area for cocoa and maize represents a major threat for local rain forests.
Remote sensing plays an important role in the examination of rain forest loss, because it allows the regionalisation and quantification of spatial developments at different scales.
In his book, Christian Knieper gains information about land cover and land cover change in Central Sulawesi on the basis of a Landsat 7/ETM+ time series. He applies a modern object-oriented approach which allows the analysis of non-spectral features (e.g. shape, spatial relations, thematic data) and goes beyond the pure isolated statistical examination of each pixel’s spectral values offered by traditional remote sensing techniques. The gathered results on land cover change provide essential information for socio-economic as well as ecological research activities within STORMA.