The transformation of forest to agricultural areas is one of the largest drivers of deforestation. The New York Declaration on Forests by the UN (2014) aims at eliminating deforestation from the delivery chains of global agricultural resources. Thus, concepts and data are needed to minimize the loss of natural forests by e.g. expansion of agriculture in degraded areas. Within this context, the project “IKEBANA“ (Interferometrische Kartierung von Waldstrukturveränderungen als Basisinformation für nachhaltige Produktion und Handel von Agrarrohstoffen; engl. Interferometric mapping of changes of forest structure as information for sustainable production and business of agricultural resource) evaluates innovative techniques of radar remote sensing in order to support decisions on the production of palm oil, cocoa and rubber with reduced deforestation. Here, the potential of interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) products acquired in the TanDEM-X mission at different dates is analyzed to characterize the status of the forest. Deforestation or forest degradation results in a decreased InSAR height, whereas forest growth would result in an increased InSAR height. However, the InSAR height signal must be calibrated with high accuracy in order to produce reliable InSAR height changes. Factors of influence like the penetration depth of the InSAR height must be parametrized in order to achieve a high accurate calibration. The parametrization of influencing factors is a major research question addressed in the project. Finally, the InSAR height change information should be classified in forest change classes and in quantitative information of forest structure change. The potential outcome of the IKEBANA project is a framework to detect deforestation and forest degradation as well as to quantify forest structure change on regional or even global scale. Since changes in forest structure are assumed to have an impact on ecological functions of tropical forests, the outcome of the IKEBANA project is well suited to contribute to the overall aims of the CRC 990.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) with grant no. 50EE1808B.
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