Statistical assessment of vegetation dynamics within protected areas using remote sensing data
AbstractThis study aimed to test the effectiveness of protected areas to preserve vegetation. The first step was to identify vegetation suitable areas, designed as areas with optimal morphological terrain features for a good photosynthetic activity. These areas were defined according to the following landscape factors: slope, altitude, aspect and land use. Enhanced vegetation index (EVI) was chosen as vegetation dynamics indicator. This method is based on a statistical approach using remote sensing data in a geographic information system (GIS) environment. The correlation between EVI and landscape factor was evaluated using the frequency ratio method. Classes of landscape factors that show good correlation with a high EVI were combined to obtain vegetation suitable areas. Once identified, these areas and their vegetation dynamics were analysed by comparing the results obtained whenever these areas are included or not included in protected areas. A second EVI dataset was used to verify the accuracy in identifying vegetation suitable areas and the influence of each landscape factor considered in their identification. This validation process showed that vegetation suitable areas are significant in identifying areas with good photosynthetic activity. The effects analysis showed a positive influence of all landscape factors in determining suitability. This methodology, applied to central regions of Italy, shows that the vegetation suitable areas located inside protected areas are greener than those outside protected areas. This suggests that the protective measures established by the institution of the parks have proved to be effective, at least as far as the status of vegetation development is concerned.
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Copyright (c) 2013 Maria Elena Menconi, David Grohmann
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