Tree species classification by integrating satellite imagery and topographic variables using maximum entropy method in a Mongolian forest

Shou Hao Chiang, Miguel Valdez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Forests are an important natural resource that achieve ecological balance by regulating water regimes and promoting soil conservation. Based on forest inventories, the government is able to make decisions to sustainably conserve, improve, and manage forests. Fieldwork for forestry investigation requires intensive physical labor, which is costly and time-consuming, especially for surveys in remote mountainous regions. Remote sensing technology has been recently used for forest investigation on a large scale. An informative forest inventory must include forest attributes, including details of tree species; however, tree species mapping is not always applicable due to the similarity of surface reflectance and texture between tree species. Topographic variables such as elevation, slope, aspect, and curvature are crucial in allocating ecological niches to different species; therefore, this study suggests that integrating topographic information and optical satellite image classification can improve mapping accuracy for tree species. The main purpose of this study is to classify forest tree species in Erdenebulgan County, Huwsgul Province, Mongolia, by integrating Landsat satellite imagery with a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) using a Maximum Entropy algorithm. A forest tree species inventory from the Forest Division of the Mongolian Ministry of Nature and Environment was used as training data and as ground truth to perform the accuracy assessment. In this study, the classification was made using two different experimental approaches. First, classification was done using only Landsat surface reflectance data; and second, topographic variables were integrated with the Landsat surface reflectance data. The integration approach showed a higher overall accuracy and kappa coefficient, indicating that an accurate forest inventory can be achieved by integrating satellite imagery data and other topographic information to enhance the practice of forest management in remote regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number961
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Forest tree species classification
  • Maximum entropy
  • Satellite imagery
  • Topographic variables


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