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Remote Sensing Assessment of Forest Fragmentation


IGRE, then CEITA (The Center for Environmental Information Technology and Applications) conducted a remote sensing study to map and assess the forest cover of the Fort Custer Training Center (FCTC) near Battle Creek, Michigan. Landsat-5 and Landsat-7 satellite digital imagery was obtained for 1996 and 1999, and provided the basis to map the forestlands of the FCTC, particularly the mature, closed-canopy forestlands. Landsat imagery from the Thematic Mapper TM sensor covers a geographic area of approximately 10,000 statute miles, and hence a large-area analysis could be performed.  The mature, closed-canopy forestlands included the saw and pole timber classes of the woodlands whose tree crowns form a closed or continuous canopy of forest cover. These forestlands on the 12-square mile, military training center in Augusta, Michigan (Figure 1) represents one of the largest distributions of woodlands within the southwestern region of the State of Michigan. On Figure 1, the green-colored areas on the map in the vicinity of Fort Custer represent forestlands.

 The objectives of this forest fragmentation study were to:

  • Assess the use of the two Landsat satellite scenes for mapping the forest cover in 1996 and 1999, and compare these forestlands to other large tracts of forests in the vicinity of the FCTC.
  • Utilize computer-assisted classification techniques and the digital Landsat imagery, to classify the current land use/land cover, including the forestlands.
  • Map the successional changes in the woodlands on the Fort and in the immediate area using six sets of historical aerial photographs that date back to 1938.
  • Use geographic information system techniques to define interior forest areas within the forestlands of Fort Custer that may buffer the forest-interior nesting birds from nest parasitism and nest predation. 

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