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Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 961; doi:10.3390/su8090961

An Assessment of Productivity Patterns of Grass-Dominated Rangelands in the Hindu Kush Karakoram Region, Pakistan

1
State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, Xinjiang, China
2
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu 44700, Nepal
3
Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
4
Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Chengdu 610000, Sichuan, China
5
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Nabin K. Malakar
Received: 15 June 2016 / Revised: 26 August 2016 / Accepted: 29 August 2016 / Published: 22 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mountains Region)
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Abstract

Rangelands in the Hindu Kush Karakoram region provide a resource base for nomadic livestock grazing, which is one of the major traditional livelihood practices in the area. The present study assessed the spatiotemporal patterns and trends of rangelands using satellite remote-sensing time-series data. Moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS)-based normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data, collected at fortnightly intervals over 12 years (2001–2012), were used as a proxy for the vegetation conditions of the grasslands. The analysis revealed that rangeland productivity increased with increasing elevation up to the sub-alpine zone, which had a higher productivity than the moist temperate zone and humid sub-tropical zone. The high sub-alpine productivity was attributed to seasonal amplitude and the extended length of the growing season in the phenological cycle. In the temporal analysis of productivity, the majority of the area exhibited improvements in vegetation conditions, which were strongest in the humid sub-tropical zones and weakest in the alpine zones. The sub-alpine grasslands were found to be the most productive and heterogeneous habitat; however, the relatively strong negative temporal trend in productivity in this zone indicates ongoing degradation in these rangelands. Thus, special attention is needed for the sustainable management of rangelands in the sub-alpine zones of the Hindu Kush Karakoram region. View Full-Text
Keywords: remote sensing; time-series analysis; rangelands; land degradation; Hindu Kush Karakoram remote sensing; time-series analysis; rangelands; land degradation; Hindu Kush Karakoram
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Qamer, F.M.; Xi, C.; Abbas, S.; Murthy, M.S.R.; Ning, W.; Anming, B. An Assessment of Productivity Patterns of Grass-Dominated Rangelands in the Hindu Kush Karakoram Region, Pakistan. Sustainability 2016, 8, 961.

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