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VISualize 2012: Tracking Pine Beetle Forest Destruction

Mark Alonzo
In my previous post, I talked about VISualize 2012 which we hosted at the World Wildlife Foundation in Washington DC.  The conference recently wrapped up and there were some great presentations about everything from crop management to declining arctic sea ice and to distribution of Pine Beetles in Colorado. As Cherie discussed in her last piece on assessing fire damage with imagery, an additional contributor to fire fuel load for the fires that have been gripping Colorado are dead lodge pole pines.  The lodge poles in Colorado are being killed by the endemic Mountain Pine Beetle.  At VISualize, Matt Hallas (an intern here at Exelis VIS) presented on the mapping of pine beetle tree destruction in Colorado using Landsat imagery to map the migration of the beetles as they move across the Rocky Mountain region.  Matt used NDVI to successfully locate distressed tree stands and map the progression of Pine Beetles northward across the state over the past decade. Matt’s presentation about the impact of Pine Beetles on the health of forests and Cherie’s blog on post fire assessment are both great examples of how imagery is being used across the spectrum of landscape classification and change detection.   As Matt and Cherie demonstrated, image analysis is a powerful tool and I believe NGO’s will soon be leveraging remote sensing to a much greater degree in their work to conserve important habitats.

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