The work presented here aims at developing cover mask for monitoring forest health in Poland using remote sensing data. The main objective was to assess the impact of using the mask on forest condition monitoring combined with vegetation indices obtained from long-term satellite data. In this study, a new mask developed from the CORINE Land Cover 2012 (CLC2012) database is presented and its one-kilometer pixel size matched to low-resolution data derived from SPOT VEGETATION satellite registrations. For vegetation mapping, only pixels with a cover ≥ 50% of broad-leaved and mixed forests defined by CLC2012 were taken into account. The masked pixels were used to evaluate spatial variability in eight Natural-Forest Regions (NFRs). The largest coverages by masked forests were obtained in Sudetian (65.7%), Carpathian (65.9%) and Baltic (51.3%) regions. For other forest regions the coverage was observed to be around 30-50%.
Time-series of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) comprising SPOT VEGETATION images from 1998 until 2014 were computed and cross-comparison analyses on ≥ 50% and < 50% forest cover masks brought up frequent differences at a level higher than 0.05 NDVI in seven out of eight NFRs. An exception is the Sudetian region, where the data was highly consistent. Furthermore, the Mann-Whitney U non-parametric test revealed statistically significant differences in two regions: Baltic and Masurian-Podlasie NFR. The comparative analysis of NDVI confirmed that there is a need for additional investigation of the quality of newly developed forest mask combined with vegetation and meteorological data.