Despite their protected status, forest reserves can be influenced by anthropogenic activities within and adjacent to reserve boundaries, resulting in environmental degradation and changes in forest cover. Long-term monitoring of environmental change within protected areas in a reliable and extensive manner is important given widespread, human-induced land-cover and land-use change. This study demonstrates the utility of optical satellite remotely sensed imagery and multi-temporal image analysis procedures for mapping and monitoring land cover and land use within cloud-prone and mountainous forest reserves and their environs in China and Ghana for the period of mid-1980s to 2018. The novel mapping and monitoring procedures yield extensive land-use dynamic information in a reliable manner by minimizing terrain-related illumination and cloud cover effects. Forest types and land-use are mapped in selected cloud-prone and mountainous forest reserves in China and Ghana to test the reliability of the optimized methods. By applying logical land-use transition rules and interpreting high spatial resolution satellite imagery, land-use changes and the anthropogenic activities associated with them are identified.