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Detecting war-induced abandoned agricultural land in northeast Bosnia using multispectral, multitemporal Landsat TM imagery

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The use of satellite technology by military planners has a relatively long history as a tool of warfare, but little research has used satellite technology to study the effects of war. This research addresses this gap by applying satellite remote sensing imagery to study the effects of war on land-use/land-cover change in northeast Bosnia. Although the most severe war impacts are visible at local scales (e.g. destroyed buildings), this study focuses on impacts to agricultural land. Four change detection methods were evaluated for their effectiveness in detecting abandoned agricultural land using Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) data from before, during and after the 1992-95 war. Ground reference data were collected in May 2006 at survey sites selected using a stratified random sampling approach based on the derived map of abandoned agricultural land. Fine-resolution Quickbird imagery was also used to verify the accuracy of the classification. Results from these analyses show that a supervised classification of the Landsat TM data identified abandoned agricultural land with an overall accuracy of 82.5%. The careful use of freely available Quickbird imagery, both as training data for the supervised classifier and as supplementary ground reference data, suggests that these methods are applicable to other civil wars too dangerous for researchers' fieldwork.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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