The world's forest ecosystems are in a state of permanent flux at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Monitoring techniques based on multispectral satellite-acquired data have demonstrated potential as a means to detect, identify, and map changes in forest cover. This paper, which reviews the methods and the results of digital change detection primarily in temperate forest ecosystems, has two major components. First, the different perspectives from which the variability in the change event has been approached are summarized, and the appropriate choice of digital imagery acquisition dates and interval length for change detection are discussed. In the second part, preprocessing routines to establish a more direct linkage between digital remote sensing data and biophysical phenomena, and the actual change detection methods themselves are reviewed and critically assessed. A case study in temperate forests (north-central U.S.A.) then serves as an illustration of how the different change detection phases discussed in this paper can be integrated into an efficient and successful monitoring technique. Lastly, new developments in digital change detection such as the use of radar imagery and knowledge-based expert systems are highlighted.