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The objective of this paper is twofold: first, to assess the potential of radar data for tropical vegetation cartography and, second, to evaluate the contribution of different polarimetric indicators that can be derived from a fully polarimetric data set. Because of its ability to take numerous and heterogeneous parameters into account, such as the various polarimetric indicators under consideration, a support vector machine (SVM) algorithm is used in the classification step. The contribution of the different polarimetric indicators is estimated through a greedy forward and backward method. Results have been assessed with AIRSAR polarimetric data polarimetric data acquired over a dense tropical environment. The results are compared to those obtained with the standard Wishart approach, for single frequency and multifrequency bands. It is shown that, when radar data do not satisfy the Wishart distribution, the SVM algorithm performs much better than the Wishart approach, when applied to an optimized set of polarimetric indicators.