Abstract: High-precision land-cover-land-use GIS mapping was performed in four major townships in Maine’s Aroostook River Valley, using on-screen digitization and direct interpretation of very high spatial resolution satellite multispectral imagery (15–60 cm) and high spatial resolution LiDAR data (2 m) and the field mapping method. The project not only provides the first-ever high-precision land-use maps for northern Maine, but it also yields accurate hectarage estimates of different land-use types, in particular grassland, defined as fallow land, pasture, and hay field. This enables analysis of potential land availability and suitability for grass biomass production and other sustainable land uses. The results show that the total area of fallow land in the four towns is 7594 hectares, which accounts for 25% of total open land, and that fallow plots equal to or over four hectares in size total 4870, or 16% of open land. Union overlay analysis, using the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil data, indicates that only a very small percentage of grassland (4.9%) is on “poorly-drained” or “very-poorly-drained” soils, and that most grassland (85%) falls into the “farmland of state importance” or “prime farmland” categories, as determined by NRCS. It is concluded that Maine’s Aroostook River Valley has an ample base of suitable, underutilized land for producing grass biomass.
Abstract: Rosetta Promontory, Egypt has been suffering from a continuous erosion problem. The dramatic retreatment was observed during the last century. It is basically due to the construction of Aswan High Dam in 1964, which reduced the flow and sediment discharges. In this paper, four Landsat images (two Thematic Mapper and two Enhanced Thematic Mapper) covering the period from 1984 to 2014 were used. These Landsat images were radio-metrically and geometrically corrected, and then, multi-temporal post-classification analysis was performed to detect land cover changes, extracting shoreline positions to estimate shoreline change rates of the Nile delta coast around Rosetta Promontory. This method provides a viable means for examining long-term shoreline changes. Four categories, including seawater, developed (agriculture and urban), sabkhas (salt-flat), and undeveloped areas, were selected to evaluate their temporal changes by comparing the four selected images. Supervised classification technique was used with support vector machine algorithm to detect temporal changes. The overall accuracy assessment of this method ranged from 97% to 100%. In addition, the shoreline was extracted by applying two different techniques. The first method is based on a histogram threshold of Band 5, and the other uses the combination of histogram threshold of Band 5 and two band ratios (Band 2/Band 4 and Band 2/Band 5). For land cover change detection from 1984 to 2014, it was found that the developed area that increased by 9% although the land in the study area has been contracted by 1.6% due to coastal erosion. The shoreline retreat rate has decreased more than 70% from 1984 to 2014. Nevertheless, it still suffers from significant erosion with a maximum rate of 37 m/year. In comparison to ground survey and different remote sensing techniques, the established trend of shoreline change extracted using histogram threshold was found to be closely consistent with these studies rather than combining band ratio with histogram threshold.
Abstract: Savanna ecosystems are geographically extensive and both ecologically and economically important; they therefore require monitoring over large spatial extents. There are, in particular, large areas within southern Africa savanna ecosystems that lack consistent geospatial data on vegetation morphological properties, which is a prerequisite for biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of ecological resources. Given the challenges involved in distinguishing and mapping savanna vegetation assemblages using remote sensing, the objective of this study was to develop a vegetation morphology map for the largest protected area in Africa, the central Kalahari. Six vegetation morphology classes were developed and sample training/validation pixels were selected for each class by analyzing extensive in situ data on vegetation structural and functional properties, in combination with existing ancillary data and coarse scale land cover products. The classification feature set consisted of annual and intra annual matrices derived from 14 years of satellite-derived vegetation indices images, and final classification was achieved using an ensemble tree based classifier. All vegetation morphology classes were mapped with high accuracy and the overall classification accuracy was 91.9%. Besides filling the geospatial data gap for the central Kalahari area, this vegetation morphology map is expected to serve as a critical input to ecological studies focusing on habitat use by wildlife and the efficacy of game fencing, as well as contributing to sustainable ecosystem management in the central Kalahari.
Abstract: Section 404 of the U.S. Clean Water Act includes most wetlands in its jurisdiction and requires wetland mitigation to compensate for permitted wetland losses. These mitigation wetlands can provide ecosystem services similar to original wetlands if properly constructed. Improvement of wetland monitoring requirements coupled with economic assessment is critical for effective implementation of the mitigation policy. The economic assessment when left out of evaluation of mitigation policy could result in mitigation wetlands being given too little weight in policy decisions. Under the assumption that mitigation requirements reported in the Army Corps permit files represent actual wetland creation, ecosystem services value is estimated using a wetland benefit‑function transfer approach. Wetland mitigation requirements during 2010–2012 recorded in the Army Corps permit files is used for the analysis. The results indicate that cumulative ecosystem services value per acre per year is in the range of $5000 to $70,000, which translates to a nationwide annual aggregate benefit of $2.7 billion. Given the history of the ecosystem services not fully captured nor adequately quantified, the current analysis is an initial step in understanding the value of wetland mitigation.
Abstract: The environment of the mountain-steppe-taiga of northern Mongolia is often characterized as marginal because of the high altitude, highly variable precipitation levels, low winter temperatures, and periodic droughts coupled with severe winter storms (known as dzuds). Despite these conditions, herders have inhabited this landscape for thousands of years, and hunter-gatherer-fishers before that. One way in which the risks associated with such a challenging and variable landscape are mitigated is through social networks and inter-family cooperation. We present an agent-based simulation, Ger Grouper, to examine how households have mitigated these risks through cooperation. The Ger Grouper simulation takes into account locational decisions of households, looks at fission/fusion dynamics of households and how those relate to environmental pressures, and assesses how degrees of relatedness can influence sharing of resources during harsh winters. This model, coupled with the traditional archaeological and ethnographic methods, helps shed light on the links between early Mongolian pastoralist adaptations and the environment. While preliminary results are promising, it is hoped that further development of this model will be able to characterize changing land-use patterns as social and political networks developed.
Land2015, 4(1), 140-156; doi:10.3390/land4010140 - published 25 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Fire is a naturally occurring process of most terrestrial ecosystems as well as a tool for changing land use. Since the beginning of history humans have used fire as a mechanism for creating areas suitable for agriculture and settlement. As fires threaten human dominated landscapes, fire risk itself has become a driver of landscape change, impacting landscapes through land use regulations and fire management. Land use changes also influence fire ignition frequency and fuel loads and hence alters fire regimes. The impact of these changes is often exacerbated as new land users demand alternative fire management strategies, which can impact land cover and management far from where land use change has actually occurred. This creates nuanced land use teleconnections between source areas for fires and economic cores, which demand and fund fire protection. Here we will review the role of fire and fire risk as a driver of land use change, the ways land use changes impact drivers of fire, and suggest that the integration of land use teleconnections into the fire/land use discussion can help us better understand and manage the complex interactions between fire and land use.