Evidence convincingly shows that illegal and corrupt activities are the major underlying cause of deforestation—illegal logging contributes up to 30% of the global market, in excess of US $20 billion a year. Since so much deforestation is a result of illegal logging, we cannot rely on official production statistics to capture deforestation. Given the importance and complexity of forest preservation, an attempt was made to evaluate the possible use of a normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) in local forest management and prevention of illegal logging and corruption. We used the example of southern Serbian municipality Kursumlija that in the 2006–2011 periods experienced a 10% loss in forest area, as the obvious result of abrupt illegal logging. This process was very easy to locate and quantify (because illegal logging produced large canopy gaps that extend from the border of Kosovo to approximately 3–4 km into the Kursumlija's territory). In short, NDVI is very promising for countries like Serbia (that rarely perform forest inventories): It is relatively cheap and quick, and it can provide forest managers with essential information; it is easy to implement; the objectivity of these methods can significantly help in avoiding corruption and illegal logging.
Part of the book: Forest Ecology and Conservation
National forest inventories (NFIs) in Serbia have been carried out very rarely (every 20 years), while the last two official estimates of forest areas (for 2011 and 2014) are very imprecise, because they are based on the cadastral data (and Serbia is well known for the lack of cadastre updating). Although forest conservation policymakers in Serbia still have limited financial, human, and political resources, over the past two decades, publicly available, remotely sensed satellite data on deforestation and degradation have dramatically reduced evaluation costs. Since municipalities in Southern Serbia experienced a 15% loss of forest area in the 2006–2014 period, as the obvious result of forceful, rapid process of illegal logging, this study evaluates the possible use of two remote sensing techniques: normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and CORINE land cover (CLC) databases for preventing illegal logging in Serbia. It clearly shows that NDVI is very promising for Serbia and also for other post-socialist countries that very rarely carry out national forest inventories (NFIs), and where unrecorded, illegal logging can exceed the legal harvest by a factor of 10.
Part of the book: Vegetation