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Using Annual Landsat Time Series for the Detection of Dry Forest Degradation Processes in South-Central Angola

  • Dry tropical forests undergo massive conversion and degradation processes. This also holds true for the extensive Miombo forests that cover large parts of Southern Africa. While the largest proportional area can be found in Angola, the country still struggles with food shortages, insufficient medical and educational supplies, as well as the ongoing reconstruction of infrastructure after 27 years of civil war. Especially in rural areas, the local population is therefore still heavily dependent on the consumption of natural resources, as well as subsistence agriculture. This leads, on one hand, to large areas of Miombo forests being converted for cultivation purposes, but on the other hand, to degradation processes due to the selective use of forest resources. While forest conversion in south-central rural Angola has already been quantitatively described, information about forest degradation is not yet available. This is due to the history of conflicts and the therewith connected research difficulties, as well as the remote location of this area. We apply an annual time series approach using Landsat data in south-central Angola not only to assess the current degradation status of the Miombo forests, but also to derive past developments reaching back to times of armed conflicts. We use the Disturbance Index based on tasseled cap transformation to exclude external influences like inter-annual variation of rainfall. Based on this time series, linear regression is calculated for forest areas unaffected by conversion, but also for the pre-conversion period of those areas that were used for cultivation purposes during the observation time. Metrics derived from linear regression are used to classify the study area according to their dominant modification processes.rnWe compare our results to MODIS latent integral trends and to further products to derive information on underlying drivers. Around 13% of the Miombo forests are affected by degradation processes, especially along streets, in villages, and close to existing agriculture. However, areas in presumably remote and dense forest areas are also affected to a significant extent. A comparison with MODIS derived fire ignition data shows that they are most likely affected by recurring fires and less by selective timber extraction. We confirm that areas that are used for agriculture are more heavily disturbed by selective use beforehand than those that remain unaffected by conversion. The results can be substantiated by the MODIS latent integral trends and we also show that due to extent and location, the assessment of forest conversion is most likely not sufficient to provide good estimates for the loss of natural resources.

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Author:Anne Schneibel, David Frantz, Achim Röder, Marion Stellmes, Kim Fischer, Joachim Hill
Document Type:Article
Date of completion:2017/09/20
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2017/09/20
Tag:Angola; Disturbance Index; Landsat; dry tropical forest; time series analysis
GND Keyword:Angola; Entwaldung; Satellitenfernerkundung; Trockenwald; Zeitreihenanalyse
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9090905
Institutes:Fachbereich 6 / Raum- und Umweltwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften

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