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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 07 Oct 2019

Submitted as: data description paper | 07 Oct 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

Annual oil palm plantation maps in Malaysia and Indonesia from 2001 to 2016

Yidi Xu1, Le Yu1,2, Wei Li1, Philippe Ciais3, Yuqi Cheng1, and Peng Gong1,2 Yidi Xu et al.
  • 1Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China
  • 2Joint Center for Global Change Studies, Beijing 100875, China
  • 3Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Universite Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette 91191, France

Abstract. Increasing global demand of vegetable oils and biofuels results in significant oil palm expansion in Southeast Asia, predominately in Malaysia and Indonesia. The land conversion to oil palm plantations leads to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and greenhouse gas emission over the past decades. Quantifying the consequences of oil palm expansion requires fine scale and frequently updated datasets of land cover dynamics. Previous studies focused on total changes for a multi-year interval without identifying the exact time of conversion, causing uncertainty in the timing of carbon emission estimates from land cover change. Using Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array Type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR), ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) datasets, we produced an Annual Oil Palm Area Dataset (AOPD) at 100-meter resolution in Malaysia and Indonesia from 2001 to 2016. We first mapped the oil palm extent using PALSAR/PALSAR-2 data for 2007–2010 and 2015–2016 and then applied a disturbance and recovery algorithm (BFAST) to detect land cover change time-points using MODIS data during the years without PALSAR data (2011–2014 and 2001–2006). The new oil palm land cover maps are assessed to have an accuracy of 86.61 % in the mapping step (2007–2010 and 2015–2016). During the intervening years when MODIS data are used, 75.74 % of the change detected time matched the timing of actual conversion using Google Earth and Landsat images. The AOPD dataset revealed spatiotemporal oil palm dynamics every year and shows that plantations expanded from 2.59 to 6.39 M ha and from 3.00 to 12.66 M ha in Malaysia and Indonesia, respectively (i.e., a net increase of 146.60 % and 322.46 %) between 2001 and 2016. The increasing trends from our dataset are consistent with those from the national inventories, but slightly greater because of inclusion of smallholder oil palm plantations in our dataset. We highlight the capability of combining multiple resolution radar and optical satellite datasets in annual plantation mapping at large extent using image classification and statistical boundary-based change detection to achieve long time-series. The consistent characterization of oil palm dynamics can be further used in downstream applications. The annual oil palm plantation maps from 2001 to 2016 at 100 m resolution is published in the Tagged Image File Format with georeferencing information (GeoTIFF) at

Yidi Xu et al.
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Yidi Xu et al.
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Short summary
The first Annual Oil Palm Area Dataset (AOPD) for Malaysia and Indonesia from 2001 to 2016 has been produced by integrating multiple satellite datasets and a change detection algorithm-BFAST. This dataset reveals the oil palm plantation expanded from 5.62 to 19.12 M ha in the two countries during the past 16 years. The AOPD is useful in understanding the deforestation process in Southeast Asia and may serve as land-use change inputs in dynamic global vegetation models.
The first Annual Oil Palm Area Dataset (AOPD) for Malaysia and Indonesia from 2001 to 2016 has...