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Use of remote sensing coupled with a vegetation change tracker model to assess rates of forest change and fragmentation in Mississippi, USA

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Mapping forest disturbance history is essential for assessing forest fragmentation conditions and the effectiveness of management approaches, and it is crucial for the understanding of terrestrial and atmospheric carbon flux. In this study, our analysis maps and characterizes the wall-to-wall forest change patterns in Mississippi over the time period 1987-2005, by interpreting 132 Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) or Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) scenes using a vegetation change tracker (VCT) model. Our analysis revealed that a gradual decelerating forest fragmentation during the time period 1987-1993 gave way to an accelerating fragmentation during the period 1994-2005. This unique trend in forest fragmentation was a consequence of forest logging, regeneration practices and natural disturbance regimes. In addition, for the most part of the 1990s and between 2000 and 2005, Mississippi lost about 2% of its forest on an annual basis, but many of the losses were offset by forest regeneration from previous disturbances. Forest spatial change information derived from this analysis has provided valuable insights regarding regional forest management practices and socioeconomic impacts, which will be beneficial for land managers to develop ecologically sustainable forest management strategies and biodiversity conservation practices.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: College of Forest Resources and Environment, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing, People's Republic of China 2: Department of Geography, 2181 LeFrak Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA 3: Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Arlington, VA, USA 4: Zhejiang Provincial Center for Forest Resources Monitoring, Hangzhou, People's Republic of China

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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