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Watershed characteristics, land use and fabric: The application of remote sensing and geographical information systems

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Abstract:

Abstract

Integrated watershed assessment, especially relying on remote sensing (RS), is a newly established procedure in developing countries. It is proving to be a major component in river-basin environmental management. The recurrence of environmental problems in the Akkar El Kabir River watershed, as well as the lack of proper data on sources and sinks of pollutants, and the extent of human interference, led to the current study. Advanced geoinformation tools, such as RS and geographical information systems (GIS), prove to be a valuable asset in securing data on the fabric of the Akkar watershed in relation to its natural setting and anthropic interference. This is particularly true in the current study as the river constitutes the boundary between Lebanon and Syria. Remote sensing captures the watershed characteristics and land use on both sides without constraints. The natural fabric includes geology, drainage, hydrogeology, forest and soil. The anthropic fabric includes settlements, utilities, roads, agriculture and land use. If it were not for geoinformation techniques, the task of securing such data would be difficult. Also, these techniques show the impact of malpractices from excessive human interference that result in degradation of land and water quality. Changes in the watershed, such as environmental deterioration, are observed as water pollution, soil erosion, forest decline and socioeconomic imbalance. Obviously, this is the outcome of malpractices in a multisectorial system. A major challenge for RS and GIS is to quantify, model and predict, if possible, the extent of these changes. Remote sensing inherently captures the impact of interaction between nature and human beings. Detection of change is a major indicator that RS can contribute to the evaluation of the state of the environment. The application of it on this watershed reveals that significant changes have occurred over the last 10–15¬†years, most of which are anthropic.

Keywords: decision-making aid; environment; geoinformation; remote sensing; watershed

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1770.2005.00264.x

Affiliations: 1: National Centre for Remote Sensing, Beirut, Lebanon, and 2: General Organization for Remote Sensing, Damascus, Syria

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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