International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire

A semi-automated object-oriented model for burned area mapping in the Mediterranean region using Landsat-TM imagery

G. H. Mitri A C and I. Z. Gitas B

A Department of Environmental Management, Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Crete, Greece.

B Laboratory of Forest Management and Remote Sensing, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Telephone: +30 2310 992699; fax: +30 2310 998797; email:

C Corresponding author. Telephone: +30 2310 992688; fax: +30 2310 998897; email:

International Journal of Wildland Fire 13(3) 367-376
Submitted: 30 December 2003  Accepted: 21 May 2004   Published: 16 November 2004


Pixel-based classification methods that make use of the spectral information derived from satellite images have been repeatedly reported to create confusion between burned areas and non-vegetation categories, especially water bodies and shaded areas. As a result of the aforementioned, these methods cannot be used on an operational basis for mapping burned areas using satellite images. On the other hand, object-based image classification allows the integration of a broad spectrum of different object features, such as spectral values, shape and texture. Sophisticated classification, incorporating contextual and semantic information, can be performed by using not only image object attributes, but also the relationship between networked image objects. In this study, the synergy of all these features allowed us to address image analysis tasks that, up until now, have not been possible. The aim of this work was to develop an object-based classification model for burned area mapping in the Mediterranean using Landsat-TM imagery. The object-oriented model developed to map a burned area on the Greek island of Thasos was then used to map other burned areas in the Mediterranean region after the Landsat-TM images had been radiometrically, geometrically and topographically corrected. The results of the research showed that the developed object-oriented model was transferable and that it could be effectively used as an operative tool for identifying and mapping the three different burned areas (~98% overall accuracy).


Baatz MSchäpe A1999Object-oriented and multi-scale image analysis in semantic networks.‘Proceedings of the 2nd international symposium on operationalization of remote sensing, Enschede, ITC, The Netherlands, 16–20 August’.

Baatz MSchäpe A2000Multiresolution segmentation—an optimization approach for high quality multi-scale image segmentation.‘Angewandte Geographische Informationsverarbeitung XII. Beiträge zum AGIT-Symposium Salzburg 2000’.Strobl JBlaschke TGriesebner G1223Herbert Wichmann-VerlagKarlsruhe

Bourgeau-Chavez LHarrell PKasischke ESFrench NHF1997The detection and mapping of Alaskan wildfires using a spaceborne imaging radar system.International Journal of Remote Sensing18355373

Caetano MSMertes AKPereira MC1994Using spectral mixture analysis for fire severity mapping.‘2nd International Conference on Forest Fire Research, Coimbra’. pp. 667–677.

Caetano MSMertes LCadete LPereira MC1996Assessment of AVHRR data for characterising burned areas and post-fire vegetation recovery.EARSEL Advances in Remote Sensing4124134

Chuvieco E1997Remote sensing applications in forest fires.‘Forest fire risk and management’.Balabanis PEftichidis GFantechi R193207Office for Official Publications of the European CommunitiesLuxemburg

Chuvieco E1999 ‘Remote sensing of large wildfires in the European Mediterranean Basin.’ Springer-VerlagNew York

Chuvieco ECongalton RG1988Using cluster analysis to improve the selection of training statistics in classifying remotely sensed data.Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing5412751281

Costa-Posada C1997‘The topographic effect in visible and near infrared satellite imagery.’PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

eCognition2001 ‘User Guide.’ Definiens Imaging GmbHMünchen

Eastwood JAPlummer BKWyatt BKStocks BJ1998The potential of SPOT-VGT data for fire scar detection in boreal forest.International Journal of Remote Sensing1936813687

Gitas IZ1999‘Geographical information systems and remote sensing in mapping and monitoring fire-altered forest landscapes.’PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Hofmann TPuzicha JBuhmann J1998Unsupervised texture segmentation in a deterministic annealing framework.IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence13478482

Huete ARJackson RDPost DF1985Spectral response of a plant canopy with different soil backgrounds.Remote Sensing of Environment173753

ICONA1992 ‘Los incendios forestales en España durante 1991.’ Instituto Nacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, MAPAMadrid

Imagine ERDAS2001 ‘User Guide.’ ERDAS Inc.Atlanta, GA

Lombraña MJ1995 ‘Monitoring of burnt forest areas with remote sensing data: a study in north-east Spain using Landsat TM and SPOT XS data.’ Technical Note No. I.95.80. Institute for Remote Sensing Applications, Joint Research CentreIspra, Italy

Makedos I1987The Pinus brutia forest of Thasos.‘Pinus halepensis and Pinus brutia forests (Ecology, management and development)’. Papanastasis V153160Hellenic Association of ForestersChalkida, Greece

Milne AK1986The use of remote sensing in mapping and monitoring vegetational change associated with bushfire events in eastern Australia.Geocarto International12534

Minnaert M1941The reciprocity principle in lunar photometry.The Astrophysical Journal93403410

Oliver CJMcConnell IStewart D1996Optimum texture segmentation of SAR clutter.‘EUSAR ’96: European conference on synthetic aperture radar’.Klemm RKeydahl WEnder J8184VDE-Verlag GmbhBerlin

Pausas JGVallejo VR1999The role of fire in European mediterranean ecosystems.‘Remote sensing of large wildfires’. Chuvieco Salinero E316Springer-VerlagBerlin

Pereira JMC1992Burned area mapping with conventional and selective principal component analysis.Revista Portuguesa de Geografía276378

Pereira JMCSetzer AW1993Spectral characteristics of fire scars in Landsat-5 TM images of Amazonia.International Journal of Remote Sensing1420612078

Pereira MCChuvieco EBeudoin ADesbois N1997Remote sensing of burned areas: a review.‘A review of remote sensing methods for the study of large wildland fires’. Chuvieco E127184Departamento de Geografía, Universidad de AlcaláAlcalá de Henares

Richter R1997Correction of atmospheric and topographic effects for high spatial resolution satellite imagery.International Journal of Remote Sensing1810991111

Robinson JM1991Fire from space: global fire evaluation using infrared remote sensing.International Journal of Remote Sensing12324

San Miguel-Ayanz JAnnoni ASchmuck G1998The use of satellite imagery for retrieval of information on wildfire damage in Mediterranean landscapes.‘ERIM ’98, International symposium on remote sensing of environment: information for sustainability, 8–12 June 1998, Tromsø, Norway’.758762Norwegian Space CentreOslo

Siljeström PMoreno A1995Monitoring burnt areas by principal components analysis of multi-temporal TM data.International Journal of Remote Sensing1615771587

Simpson CJ1990Deep weathering, vegetation and fire burn. Significant obstacles for geoscience remote sensing in Australia.International Journal of Remote Sensing1120192034

Tanaka SKimura HSuga Y1983Preparation of a 1:25 000 Landsat map for assessment of burnt area on Etajima Island.International Journal of Remote Sensing41731

Export Citation