An Attention-Based U-Net for Detecting Deforestation Within Satellite Sensor Imagery

John, David and Zhang, Ce (2022) An Attention-Based U-Net for Detecting Deforestation Within Satellite Sensor Imagery. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 107: 102685. ISSN 0303-2434

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In this paper, we implement and analyse an Attention U-Net deep network for semantic segmentation using Sentinel-2 satellite sensor imagery, for the purpose of detecting deforestation within two forest biomes in South America, the Amazon Rainforest and the Atlantic Forest. The performance of Attention U-Net is compared with U-Net, Residual U-Net, ResNet50-SegNet and FCN32-VGG16 across three different datasets (three-band Amazon, four-band Amazon and Atlantic Forest). Results indicate that Attention U-Net provides the best deforestation masks when tested on each dataset, achieving average pixel-wise F1-scores of 0.9550, 0.9769 and 0.9461 for each dataset, respectively. Mask reproductions from each classifier were also analysed, showing that compared to the ground reference Attention U-Net could detect non-forest polygons more accurately than U-Net and overall it provides the most accurate segmentation of forest/deforest compared with benchmark approaches despite its reduced complexity and training time, thus being the first application of an Attention U-Net to an important deforestation segmentation task. This paper concludes with a brief discussion on the ability of the attention mechanism to offset the reduced complexity of Attention U-Net, as well as ideas for further research into optimising the architecture and applying attention mechanisms into other architectures for deforestation detection. Our code is available at

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? attention mechanismattention u-netdeep learningdeforestration mappingsentinel-2global and planetary changeearth-surface processescomputers in earth sciencesmanagement, monitoring, policy and law ??
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Deposited On:
14 Jan 2022 12:25
Last Modified:
16 May 2024 02:39