Next generation European forest disturbance maps now available

11 April 2024

ForestPaths just published its long-awaited dataset of maps of annual forest disturbances across 38 European countries derived from the Landsat satellite data archive. The previous European Forest Disturbance Atlas covered the period 1985-2021, which project partner Technical University of Munich has now extended to include the years from 1985 to 2023. 

European Forest Disturbance Atlas

Not only is the time frame lengthened, but there is also a new approach allowing for the detection of multiple disturbance events per series and the development of a cause-attribution workflow. For the very first time, the high-resolution maps are open-source and fully operational for annual updates. 

The latest European Forest Disturbance Atlas at the agent level has three visual components when deciphering the disturbance maps: 1) the year of the most recent disturbance event in the time series and the greatest disturbance in terms of spectral change; 2) frequency of disturbances within the time series; and 3) disturbance agent, summarising the attribution of agents over the full-time series, such as wind/bark beetle complex, fire, harvest and mixed agents. Disturbances are mapped across Europe using all available Satellite images from the Landsat archives.

The data will be used to develop empirical models of disturbance drivers, improving the common understanding of forest disturbances in Europe and to be used in forest simulation models within the ForestPaths project. The maps will also serve as reference for other data products to provide a comprehensive picture on forest change across Europe.

In addition to the dataset that may be found on Zenodo, which includes maps per country as GeoTIFF, the European Forest Disturbance Atlas is available online through Earth Engine Apps. TUM will continuously update the maps and improve their quality, so please take a look at the latest version here but also stay tuned for future updates!

Forest disturbance map showing the spread of forest wildfires in Central Portugal, including technical information such as the time frame and number of disturbances.