Remote sensing methods for detecting deforestation and illegal logging in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Abstract: With the rapid and alarming rate at which forests are disappearing around the world, it is of great importance to effectively estimate loss of forest cover due to different causes. Among those causes illegal logging is a particularly enigmatic and dangerous one made well-known by the destruction of the tropical rainforests of South America and Southeast Asia. A less glamorous hotspot of illegal logging is Southeast Europe – whose forests are of a far more topographically and climatically dynamic nature than those of the tropics, and whose existence at the periphery of the European Union leaves it especially vulnerable as a tantalizingly near source of timber which is less regulated and financially weaker than its EU neighbors. Estimating illegal logging through remote sensing is difficult, and current methods, often developed specifically for the tropics, rely mostly on canopy disturbance as an indicator. This study used data obtained from the Global Forest Change as an estimation of deforestation to compare with official data received for the study area of Canton Sarajevo on annual amounts and locations of reported illegal logging from 2015 to 2018. The results showed conflicting relationships between deforestation and illegal logging, while visual corroboration showed very little areas of overlap between the two; spatial distribution appears mostly random with some concentration of illegal logging in the district of Hadžići. With a cumbersome political infrastructure and notorious problems with corruption, BiH’s problem with illegal logging appears to be largely poverty-driven, and any action to combat it should take care not to target those who are most vulnerable.
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