Land cover changes around a major east African wildlife reserve: the Mara Ecosystem (Kenya)
The dynamics of savannah vegetation are still poorly understood. This study aims at analysing land cover changes over the past 20 years in the rangelands area of Narok District, Kenya. To analyse the impact of inter-annual climate variability and human activities on land cover modifications in the area, change detection techniques based on remote sensing data at different spatial and temporal resolutions were used. Coarse spatial, high temporal resolution NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) data were analysed to investigate the role of inter-annual climate variations on the ecosystem. A combination of time contextual and spatial contextual change detection approaches was used on a set of three high spatial resolution Landsat images to map land cover modifications over the past 20 years. Both datasets are highly complementary in the detection of land cover dynamics. On the one hand, the coarse spatial resolution data detected areas that are sensitive to inter-annual climate fluctuations, but are not subjected to land cover conversion. On the other hand, the high spatial resolution data allowed the detection of land cover conversions or modifications between two consecutive dates that have a more permanent character and are independent of climate-induced fluctuations in surface attributes.
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