A quantitative accuracy assessment was performed for the vegetation classification map produced as part of the Arizona Vegetation Resource Inventory (AVRI) project. This project was a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center. The objective of the accuracy assessment was to estimate (with a precision of ?10 percent at the 90 percent confidence level) the comission error in each of the eight level II hierarchical vegetation cover types. A stratified two-phase (double) cluster sample was used. Phase I consisted of 160 photointerpreted plots representing clusters of Landsat pixels, and phase II consisted of ground data collection at 80 of the phase I cluster sites. Ground data were used to refine the phase I error estimates by means of a linear regression model. The classified image was stratified by assigning each 15-pixel cluster to the stratum corresponding to the dominant cover type within each cluster. This method is known as stratified plurality sampling.
Overall error was estimated to be 36 percent with a standard error of 2 percent. Estimated error for individual vegetation classes ranged from a low of 10 percent ?6 percent for evergreen woodland to 81 percent ?7 percent for cropland and pasture. Total cost of the accuracy assessment was $106,950 for the one-million-hectare study area.
The combination of the stratified plurality sampling (SPS) method of sample allocation with double sampling provided the desired estimates within the required precision levels. The overall accuracy results confirmed that highly accurate digital classification of vegetation is difficult to perform in semiarid environments, due largely to the sparse vegetation cover. Nevertheless, these techniques show promise for providing more accurate information than is presently available for many BLM-administered lands.