Early detection of the Pine Wilt Nematode desease using Sentinel-2 and Hyperspectral data

Forest disturbance affects over 6.4% of European forests, with at least 44% of the total being due to biotic agents. Among the biotic agents threatening European forests is the nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, often called Pinewood Nematode (PWN). The nematode spreads through a vector insect of the genus Monochamus allowing it to disseminate over large swaths of land every year.The nematode is responsible for the Pine Wilt Disease, which leads to the rapid death of host trees.

PWN is found in many countries around the world, but was detected in Europe only  recently (1999 in Portugal). Since first detection, national and European authorities struggle to contain and eradicate this agent that affects the Portuguese forestry economy.

As the spreading vector is a flying insect, the contamination pattern is very difficult to forecast. The only way to control the disease extension is to detect in a very early stage of the contamination the affected trees and to cut them before vector flight period starts. The timely detection of affected trees and a better comprehension of spread and tolerance mechanisms are thus essential to turn the tide on the fight against the nematode and ensure the sustainability of European forests.

FOCUS aims at demonstrating an innovative extension of an existing forest monitoring service 'Silvisenseusing a combination of Copernicus multispectral Sentinel-2 imagery with high resolution hyperspectral data captured by UAV platforms. While sentinel-2 data will allow to identify areas more or less  affected by the disease, the high resolution multi/hyperspectral data will allow to generate contamination maps at the individual tree level.

Targeted groups by the proposed service are:

  • forest owners
  • public and governmental authorities
  • forest management associations

During the complete project the service development/customization is supported by extensive field campaigns being carried throughout the various seasons.