Land2014, 3(4), 1214-1231; doi:10.3390/land3041214 - published 26 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Land cover change impacts ecosystem function across the globe. The use of land cover data is vital in the detection of these changes over time; however, most available land cover products, such as the National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD), are produced relatively infrequently. The most recent NLCD at the time of this research was produced in 2006 and does not adequately reflect the impact of land cover changes that have occurred since, including the occurrence of two large wildfires in 2008 in our study area. Therefore, there is a need for the classification of historical remotely sensed data, such as Landsat scenes, through replicable methods. While it is possible to collect field data coinciding with current or future Landsat acquisitions, it is impossible to retrospectively collect data for previous years; thus, fewer studies have focused on the classification of historical scenes. Using a single year of field reference and multi-year aerial photography data, we applied a simple decision tree classifier to accurately classify historic satellite data and produced maps of land cover to incorporate the effects of 2008 wildfires occurring between NLCD production dates. Overall accuracy ranged from 76 to 90 percent and was assessed using conventional error matrices.
Land2014, 3(3), 1180-1213; doi:10.3390/land3031180 - published 19 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In the context of sustainable urban development, the application of selected indicators integrated with scenario simulation and analysis can contribute to evidence-based decision making. This paper discusses the application of land use modelling and opportunity mapping approaches to evaluate regional development scenarios for the Greater Dublin Region in the period to 2026 evolving from research initially developed with the Dublin Regional Authority. This involved the simulation of four different future regional development scenarios using an adapted version of the MOLAND model with opportunity maps based on combined spatial indicators corresponding to these scenarios. The results produce valuable information for policy makers and planners assisting the evaluation of the consequences of their decisions in both a spatial and temporal context. This paper aims to show how current and future planning and economic policy can make targeted and evidence-based policy interventions and achieve resource efficiencies through the use of scenario analysis.
Land2014, 3(3), 1158-1179; doi:10.3390/land3031158 - published 17 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We build upon much of the accumulated knowledge of the widely used SLEUTH urban land change model and offer advances. First, we use SLEUTH’s exclusion/attraction layer to identify and test different urban land cover change drivers; second, we leverage SLEUTH’s self-modification capability to incorporate a demographic model; and third, we develop a validation procedure to quantify the influence of land cover change drivers and assess uncertainty. We found that, contrary to our a priori expectations, new development is not attracted to areas serviced by existing or planned water and sewer infrastructure. However, information about where population and employment growth is likely to occur did improve model performance. These findings point to the dominant role of centrifugal forces in post-industrial cities like Baltimore, MD. We successfully developed a demographic model that allowed us to constrain the SLEUTH model forecasts and address uncertainty related to the dynamic relationship between changes in population and employment and urban land use. Finally, we emphasize the importance of model validation. In this work the validation procedure played a key role in rigorously assessing the impacts of different exclusion/attraction layers and in assessing uncertainty related to population and employment forecasts.
Land2014, 3(3), 1137-1157; doi:10.3390/land3031137 - published 16 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In many Sub-Saharan African countries, fuelwood collection is among the most important drivers of deforestation and particularly forest degradation. In a detailed field study in the Kafa region of southern Ethiopia, we assessed the potential of efficient cooking stoves to mitigate the negative impacts of fuelwood harvesting on forests. Eleven thousand improved cooking stoves (ICS), specifically designed for baking Ethiopia’s staple food injera, referred to locally as “Mirt” stoves, have been distributed here. We found a high acceptance rate of the stove. One hundred forty interviews, including users and non-users of the ICS, revealed fuelwood savings of nearly 40% in injera preparation compared to the traditional three-stone fire, leading to a total annual savings of 1.28 tons of fuelwood per household. Considering the approximated share of fuelwood from unsustainable sources, these savings translate to 11,800 tons of CO2 saved for 11,156 disseminated ICS, corresponding to the amount of carbon stored in over 30 ha of local forest. We further found that stove efficiency increased with longer injera baking sessions, which shows a way of optimizing fuelwood savings by adapted usage of ICS. Our study confirms that efficient cooking stoves, if well adapted to the local cooking habits, can make a significant contribution to the conservation of forests and the avoidance of carbon emission from forest clearing and degradation.
Land2014, 3(3), 1091-1136; doi:10.3390/land3031091 - published 9 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Adelaide-Mt Lofty Region of South Australia is an exemplar, in microcosm, of the issues confronting biodiversity conservation in a world of increasing population and a drying, fire-prone environment. At just 0.1% of Australia’s terrestrial land mass, this area is largely peninsular and oriented along a spine of ranges to 730-m elevation. Annual average rainfall varies from over 1100 mm in the hills to less than 500 mm on the plains in the north. The original vegetation varied from grasslands to shrublands to grassy and shrubby woodlands to forests, but now includes a major capital city and a mixed farming hinterland. Biodiversity in the region is in decline, and many species’ extinctions have been recorded. With increasing population and a drying climate, fire antecedents, like ignition and fire danger, are predicted to increase the area burned in the wetter regions, but such predictions may be offset by increasing the fire protection of the expanding population and their economic and social assets. While the existing system of many small reserves will remain the backbone of biodiversity conservation in the region, wider recognition of the all-tenure, whole-of-landscape, whole-of-community approach to biodiversity conservation and fire management is needed if the probability of further extinctions is to be reduced.
Land2014, 3(3), 1075-1090; doi:10.3390/land3031075 - published 3 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Sahel has been the focus of scientific interest in environmental-human dynamics and interactions. The objective of the present study is to contribute to the recent debate on the re-greening of Sahel. The paper examines the dynamics of barren land in the Sahel of Burkina Faso through analysis of remotely-sensed and rainfall data from 1975–2011. Discussions with farmers and land management staff have helped to understand the anthropogenic efforts toward soil restoration to enable the subsistence farming agriculture. Results showed that area of barren land has been fluctuating during the study period with approximately 10-year cyclicity. Similarly, rainfall, both at national and local levels has followed the same trends. The trends of the area of barren land and rainfall variability suggest that when rainfall increases, the area of barren land decreases and barren land increases when rainfall decreases. This implies that rainfall is one of the main factors driving the change in area of barren land. In addition, humans have contributed positively and negatively to the change by restoring barren lands for agriculture using locally known techniques and by accelerating land degradation through intensive and inappropriate land use practices.