Local Scale Assessment of Forest-Cover in the Tropics – An Implication to Habitat Conservation

Jyotishman Deka, Sayed Asif Shahnawaz, M L Khan

Abstract


Deforestation is one of the greatest environmental concerns that the world is facing at present. As a result of human-mediated deterioration or destruction, tropical forests have altered at an unparalleled rate during the last century. Further tropical forest transition does not occur evenly throughout a region or country; rather, it is localized in a very limited area. As such, the study aimed to measure and document the deforestation and degradation on a small forested habitat in the tropics, i.e. Kaki Reserve Forest under Marat Longri Wildlife Sanctuary, northeast India using remote sensing technology. The forest conditions were observed using Landsat TM and OLI satellite images between 1991 and 2015. The current study used the Forest Canopy Density Mapping and Monitoring Model to track deforestation or degradation in the test region. Results show a significant decline in forest cover in the area. It was observed that between 1991 and 2015, the 53.3% of the total area is under pressure of deforestation and degradation. Rate of forest cover transformation under different classes ranges from 0.37 to -8.15 which are exceptionally high in comparison to other parts of the country. The study also indicated that increased human activities such as illegal-felling, agricultural development, encroachment, and collections pressure have caused huge disruptions in this forested habitat throughout the study period. Thus, it requires rapid attention in order to ensure effective forest planning and management. The study also demonstrates how integration of remote sensing data and biophysical models can be used to examine spatial forest state, which may be used for long-term forest management at the local and regional levels.


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