Assessing the Three-North Shelter Forest Program in China by a novel framework for characterizing vegetation changes

Bingwen Qiu, Gong Chen, Zhenghong Tang, Difei Lu, Zhuangzhuang Wang, Chongchen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The Three-North Shelter Forest Program (TNSFP) in China has been intensely invested for approximately 40 years. However, the efficacy of the TNSFP has been debatable due to the spatiotemporal complexity of vegetation changes. A novel framework was proposed for characterizing vegetation changes in the TNSFP region through Combining Trend and Temporal Similarity trajectory (COTTS). This framework could automatically and continuously address the fundamental questions on where, what, how and when vegetation changes have occurred. Vegetation trend was measured by a non-parametric method. The temporal similarity trajectory was tracked by the Jeffries-Matusita (JM) distance of the inter-annual vegetation indices temporal profiles and modeled using the logistic function. The COTTS approach was applied to examine the afforestation efforts of the TNSFP using 500 m 8-day composites MODIS datasets from 2001 to 2015. Accuracy assessment from the 1109 reference sites reveals that the COTTS is capable of automatically determining vegetation dynamic patterns, with an overall accuracy of 90.08% and a kappa coefficient of 0.8688. The efficacy of the TNSFP was evaluated through comprehensive considerations of vegetation, soil and wetness. Around 45.78% areas obtained increasing vegetation trend, 2.96% areas achieved bare soil decline and 4.50% areas exhibited increasing surface wetness. There were 4.49% areas under vegetation degradation & desertification. Spatiotemporal heterogeneity of efficacy of the TNSFP was revealed: great vegetation gain through the abrupt dynamic pattern in the semi-humid and humid regions, bare soil decline & potential efficacy in the semi-arid region and remarkable efficacy in functional region of Eastern Ordos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Change process
  • Jeffries-Matusita distance
  • Temporal similarity trajectory
  • Three-North Shelter Forest Program (TNSFP)
  • Vegetation trend

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the Three-North Shelter Forest Program in China by a novel framework for characterizing vegetation changes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this