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Estimation of forest area and its dynamics in Russia based on synthesis of remote sensing products


We review up-to-date, open access remote sensing (RS) products related to forest. We created a hybrid forest/non-forest map using geographically weighted regression (GWR) based on a number of recent RS products and crowdsourcing. The hybrid map has spatial resolution of 230 m and shows the extent of forest in Russia in 2010. We estimate area of Russian forest as 711 million ha (in accordance with Russian national forest definition). Compared to official data of the State Forest Register (SFR), RS estimates the area of forest to be considerably larger in European part (+12.2 million ha or +8%) and smaller in Asian (–39.8 million ha or–7%) part of Russia. We report the changing forest area in 2001–2010 and discuss main drivers: wildfire and encroachment of abandoned arable land. The methodology used here can by applied for monitoring of forest cover and enhancing the forest accounting system in Russia.