Mapping oil palm extent in Malaysia using ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 data

Yuqi Cheng, Le Yu, Yidi Xu, Hui Lu, Arthur P. Cracknell, Kasturi Kanniah, Peng Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The extent of oil palm plantations has increased rapidly in Malaysia over the past few decades. To evaluate ecological effects and economic values, it is important to produce an accurate oil palm map for Malaysia. The Phased Array Type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) on the Advance Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) is useful in land-cover mapping in tropical regions under all-weather conditions. In this study, PALSAR-2 images from 2015 were used for oil palm mapping with maximum likelihood classifier (MLC)-based supervised classification. The processed PALSAR-2 data were resampled to multiple coarser resolutions (50, 100, 250, 500, and 1000 m), and then used to investigate the effect of speckle in oil palm mapping. Both independent testing samples and inventories from the Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB) were used to evaluate the mapping accuracy. The oil palm mapping result indicates 50—500 m to be a good resolution for either retaining spatial details or reducing speckle noise of PALSAR-2 images. Among which, the best overall mapping accuracies and average oil palm accuracies reached 94.50% and 89.78%, respectively. Moreover, the oil palm area derived from the 100-m resolution map is 6.14 million hectares (Mha), which is the closest to the official MPOB inventories (~8.87% overestimation).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-452
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number2
Early online date8 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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