Free-Access Satellite Data for Land Use Change and Forest Sector in Malaysia
Keywords:Free -access data, forest ecosystem, deforestation, carbon emission
Malaysia’s recent economic growth is associated with a variety of environmental hazards, all of which contribute to the depletion of forest resources and thus to climate change. The need for more space for multiple land developments has led to the destruction of existing forests. This paper demonstrates how remote sensing data was utilised to map and quantify tropical forest changes on a regional scale in Malaysia. We created a continuous mosaic of Malaysian Landsat satellite data using image processing at 5-year intervals for 15 years. The challenge was to create cloudless images in a tropical country that are always covered with clouds. These datasets were used to identify forest coverage and changes in Malaysia. It is one of the key elements of land use, land use change and forest sector (LULUCF) for climate change assessment. From 2005 to 2020, a total of 580 Landsat images were processed to create a seamless wall-to-wall image across Malaysia. Forests were identified based on image classification and classified into three main types: dry inland forests, peat swamps, and mangroves. Post-classification change detection methods identified areas converted from forest to other land use. From 2005 to 2020, the total deforestation area was 1,087,030 ha, and the annual deforestation rate was about 72,469 ha (or 0.37% per year). As a result, total CO2 emissions have reached 689.26 million Mg CO2, at an annual rate of 45.95 million Mg CO2 yr-1. The study demonstrated that, despite some issues with the cloud cover, using various satellite images from optical sensors is the most appropriate for monitoring deforestation in the Malaysian region.