Remote Sensing for Forest-Based Impact Metrics

This memo focuses on the applicability and effectiveness of remotely sensed data, such as satellite imagery or lidar, and strategies for visualizing ecosystem services at multiple scales in forest ecosystems.

The Conservation Fund

Date Completed
Summer 2021

Geospatial Analyst, Researcher


The objectives of this memo are to provide context for and answer the following questions: 

  1. Which ecosystem services are uniquely suited for quantifying, displaying, and monitoring forest conservation metrics? 
  2. How can ecosystems services be dynamically visualized for multiple audiences? 
  3. How can we effectively integrate ecosystem service quantification and visualization into existing workflows and outputs, such as websites, print outs, pdfs, online, presentations, and videos? 

Developments in remote sensing data are increasing the ease of application of use for this technology for forest quantification. As these developments continue to enhance existing datasets and our knowledge of how forests work, we can continue to build on a variety of forest-based metrics to estimate forest ecosystem services more accurately.

The most applied forest-based metrics are derived from vegetation greenness and type, and canopy distribution – these variables infer information that manual in-field data collection is unable to uncover.

Remote sensing can help The Conservation Fund, as well as other environmental organizations:

  • establish more accurate estimates of forest carbon for climate mitigation, at both the local project and national levels
  • better understanding of forestry and recreational impacts on the economy
  • enhance the way The Fund visualizes land cover and land cover changes over time