Studies involving Landsat MSS imagery of the southeastern United States have indicated that its primary usefulness would be of mapping for forest versus non-forest features. Best results have been obtained using imagery taken during spring or using combinations of two seasons. Color infrared aerial photographs are similar to the Landsat MSS in spectral sensitivity, but provide more detail of importance to forest managers than satellite imagery, especially if taken at medium scales (1/10,000 to 1/20,000).

Aerial photography is important and is used commonly for mapping forest stands, estimating areas, and planning silvicultural operations. Ground observations, although costly, are recognized as the most important source of information used in forestry operations. Nevertheless, satellite imagery has several characteristics that might be used beneficially in forest inventory applications. Among these are repetitive coverage and wide area coverage, the capability for machine assisted analyses, and multispectral properties.

This study was designed so that the use of satellite imagery would help reduce the area covered by aerial photographs. Next, the use of aerial photographs would in turn reduce the number of ground samples needed for forest inventory. The reliability of land cover classification from Landsat data for the hydrophytic forest types was not acceptable for use in expanding forest type volume estimates to the total area basis. Also, there were several other problems that made it difficult to incorporate satellite imagery into a system of forest inventory. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the major problems influencing the usefulness of satellite imagery and other remote sensing products for inventory of Lower Coastal Plain forests.

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