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Mapping land use/cover distribution on a mountainous tropical island using remote sensing and GIS

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The land use/cover distribution on Langkawi Island, Malaysia was mapped using remote sensing and a Geographic Information System (GIS). A Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite image taken in March 1995 was processed, geocorrected and analysed using IDRISI, raster-based GIS software. An unsupervised classification was performed based on spectral data from a composite image of the bands TM3, TM4 and TM5. Using this output, field data together with available secondary data consisting of topography, land use and soil maps were used to perform a maximum likelihood supervised classification. The overall accuracy of the output image was 90% and individual class accuracy ranged from 74% for rubber to 100% for paddy fields. The classified areas on the image were mainly confined to the mountainous and hilly regions on the island. A shaded relief map, simulating sunshine conditions, showed that the unclassified areas are located in the shadowed slopes, i.e. the slopes facing west. Consequently, the imagery was subdivided on the basis of slope aspect and a stratified classification was performed. As a result of this procedure, the overall accuracy increased to 92% and the individual class accuracy for the inland forest class increased by 9% to 90% . Using IDRISI, individual class areas as well as percentages were calculated. The kappa coefficient for the classified image was 0.90. Qualitative analysis indicates that topography is the main control on the spatial distribution of land use/cover types on the island. As Langkawi Island has been developing rapidly over the last decade, successful planning will require reliable information about land use/cover distribution and change. This study illustrates that remote sensing and GIS techniques are capable of providing such information.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Surveying and Land Information, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad, West Indies 2: School of Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia

Publication date: 2001-07-10

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