Volumen: 7, Numero: 2, Páginas:  p.
We presented a methodology to accurately classify mountainous regions in the tropics. These landscapes are complex in terms of their geology, ecosystems, climate and land use. Obtaining accurate maps to assess land cover change is essential. The objectives of this study were to (1) map vegetation using the Random Forest Classifier (RFC), spectral vegetation index (SVI), and ancillar geographic data (2) identify important variables that help differentiate vegetation cover, and (3) assess the accuracy of the vegetation cover classification in hard-to-reach Ecuadorian mountain region. We used Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite images of the entire scene, a RFC algorithm, and stratified random sampling. The altitude and the two band enhanced vegetation index (EVI2) provide more information on vegetation cover than the traditional and often use normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) in other settings. We classified the vegetation cover of mountainous areas within the 1016 km2 area of study, at 30 m spatial resolution, using RFC that yielded a land cover map with an overall accuracy of 95%. The user?s accuracy and the half-width of the confidence interval for 95% of the basic map units, forest (FOR), páramo (PAR), crop (CRO) and pasture (PAS) were 95.85% ± 2.86%, 97.64% ± 1.24%, 91.53% ± 3.35% and 82.82% ± 7.74%, respectively. The overall disagreement was 4.47%, which results from adding 0.43% of quantity disagreement and 4.04% of allocation disagreement. The methodological framework presented in this paper and the combined use of SVIs, ancillary geographic data, and the RFC allowed the accurate mapping of hard-to-reach mountain landscapes as well as uncovering the underlying factors that help differentiate vegetation cover in the Ecuadorian mountain geosystem.