Rapid urbanization has changed the structure and function of natural ecosystems, especially floodplain ecosystems in SE Asia. The ecological structure of vegetation stands and the usefulness of satellite images was investigated to characterize a disturbed tropical urban forest located in the Chao Phraya River lower floodplain, Thailand. Nine sample plots were established on the Bang Kachao Peninsula (BKP) within 4 tropical forest types in an urban area: rehabilitation forest, home-garden agroforestry, mangrove and park. The tree habitats were beach forest, swamp forest, moist evergreen forest, dry evergreen forest, mangrove forest and abandoned orchard or home-garden. Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values obtained from Landsat 7 satellite images were correlated with plant structure from field surveys. NDVI had the highest relationship with stand factors for number of families, number of species, Shannon-Weiner index and total basal area. Linear regression predicted well the correlation between NDVI and stand factors for families and basal area. NDVI trends reflected urban tropical forest typing and biodiversity, being high in rehabilitation and mangrove forests, moderate in home-gardens and low in parks. We suggest that the application of NDVI for assessments can be useful for future planning, monitoring and management of the BKP and hence may contribute for increasing biodiversity and complexity of these urban forests.
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