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Assessment of tsunami and anthropogenic impacts on the forest of the North Andaman Islands, India

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Forests are being depleted drastically at higher rates to cater to the needs of growing population. In this context, an attempt was made to identify the drivers of forest changes on the vegetation of the North Andaman islands by broadly categorising the changes as anthropogenic and natural disturbances (tsunami) using satellite images of 1976, 1999 and 2005. The images were classified using visual interpretation technique to generate land cover maps of the area under study. A detailed change analysis of the 1976, 1999 and 2005 images showed that a high proportion of the natural vegetation has been converted into agriculture, settlement, sand and water. The overall forest change from 1976 to 2005 is 11,670 ha with a deforestation rate of 389 ha yr-1. The tsunami of 26 December, 2004 was found to be a major cause of deforestation of coastal forests in the North Andaman Islands, deforesting an area of 3292.5 ha. Simulation of forest cover in the next 25 and 50 years predicted a deforestation of 13,100 and 22,700 ha with a corresponding increase in non-forest land cover to 19,600 and 29,600 ha respectively. It is predicted that after 50 years the forest area of 131,200 ha, estimated from the 1999 satellite data, may reduce to 108,500 ha, if proper conservation measures are not taken.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory for Spatial Informatics, International Institute of Information Technology, Gachibowli, Hyderabad - 500 082, India 2: Forestry and Ecology Division, National Remote Sensing Agency, Department of Space, Balanagar, Hyderabad, India - 500037 3: Department of Environmental Sciences, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India 4: Indian Space Research Organization, Dept of space, Bangalore, 560094, India

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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