The Road to Operationalization of Effective Tropical Forest Monitoring Systems
Hernández-Stefanoni, Jose L.
Subedi, Mukti R.
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The urgency to preserve tropical forest remnants has encouraged the development of remote sensing tools and techniques to monitor diverse forest attributes for management and conservation. State-of-the-art methodologies for mapping and tracking these attributes usually achieve accuracies greater than 0.8 for forest cover monitoring; r-square values of ~0.5–0.7 for plant diversity, vegetation structure, and plant functional trait mapping, and overall accuracies of ~0.8 for categorical maps of forest attributes. Nonetheless, existing operational tropical forest monitoring systems only track single attributes at national to global scales. For the design and implementation of effective and integrated tropical forest monitoring systems, we recommend the integration of multiple data sources and techniques for monitoring structural, functional, and compositional attributes. We also recommend its decentralized implementation for adjusting methods to local climatic and ecological characteristics and for proper end-user engagement. The operationalization of the system should be based on all open-source computing platforms, leveraging international support in research and development and ensuring direct and constant user engagement. We recommend continuing the efforts to address these multiple challenges for effective monitoring.