Earth Observation Data Centre (EODC)-Service for Continuous Monitoring of Alpine Forests by Means of Sentinel-2 / Landsat 8-Data

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

Alpine forests have been subjected to damaging natural and anthropogenic influences. Catastrophic storm events, bark beetle calamities, as well as impacts of climate changes have weakened the resilience of alpine forests.

This results in a reduction in the functionality of the forests and leads to a decrease of the protection function regarding flooding and landslides, and to a reduction in wood production. Additionally, an increasing number of alpine pastures is no longer being grazed or cultivated, so that pastures are gradually taken over by spreading forest.

The effects of these factors result in irreversible changes in the composition and distribution of forests, as well as the landscape in general, which in turn has a negative impact on tourism, an important economic factor.

The success of far-sighted planning and preventive measures by forest administrations depends on the availability of information about the status and development dynamics of alpine forests. These also need to be available in short time intervals and easily accessible.

Current methods for forest mapping focus to a large extent on the interpretation of aerial photos or terrestrial surveys, which are intensive in terms of man power and cost in-efficient. Area-wide mapping is not carried out for economic reasons. Forest inventories provide statistical figures for larger areas, but do not provide information on spatial distribution of the forest parameters required.

Contents and goals

The objective of this project is to develop a proof-of-concept for an Alpine monitoring system implemented at the EODC. It will be based on satellite image data from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 (S-2) mission in combination with Landsat-8 (L-8) imagery, which in combination form an ideal basis for the establishment of a large-scale monitoring system through high spectral, spatial and temporal resolutions.


The implemented information system demonstrators will provide two different services to the forestry user community: 

  • Service 1: a near real-time alert system for abrupt forest changes based on time series analyses. The target parameters provided to the user in near real-time are storm damage, insect calamities, clear cuts and snow break.
  • Service 2: a mapping service of static forest parameters each 3 - 5 years, dependent on requirements. 

The mapping service builds upon the already existing Copernicus COPERNICUS Forest High Resolution Layer, but integrates further differentiation of the tree species by considering forest phenology, as well as a more precise recording of the alpine forest boundary.

Novel methods and processing lines for data pre-processing, time series analysis and classification are integrated into the EODC processing environment. A prototype for a user-friendly web service is created, which allows users to have the results of the near real-time system available as promptly as required.

Expected results

The conception of the entire system will be geared to the user needs, which are assessed in detail. At the end of the project, the entire demonstrator system will be tested in a proof-of-concept phase in co-operation with the users and possible weaknesses will be identified and corrected in multiple user feedback loops to the developers.

Project Partners


EODC Earth Observation Data Centre for Water Resources Monitoring GmbH

Project partner

  • Catalysts GmbH
  • Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH

Contact Address

EODC Earth Observation Data Centre for Water Resources Monitoring GmbH
Dipl.Ing.Dr. Christian Briese
Franz-Grill-Straße 9
A-1030 Vienna