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Understanding changes in the landscape based on a Landsat remote sensing analysis in the Karbi Anglong hills, Assam, India

Schmid T., Bos S., Oszwald J., Gond V., Garcia C.. 2016. In : Plinio Sist (ed.), Stéphanie Carrière (ed.), Pia Parolin (ed.), Pierre-Michel Forget (ed.). Tropical ecology and society reconciliating conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Program and abstracts. Storrs : ATBC, p. 324. Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC 2016), 2016-06-19/2016-06-23, Montpellier (France).

The landscape of the Karbi Anlong hills (State of Assam, India), south of the Kaziranga National Park, is shaped by small-scale farmers of the Karbi tribe. They traditionally practice jhum cultivation of upland rice and have started to cultivate cash crops such as bamboo, tea and rubber to improve their livelihoods. The forests of the Karbi Anglong hills also provide a crucial habitat for many flagship species, such as the Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) and Tiger (Panthera tigris) during the monsoon months, while the Brahmaputra river floods the plains of Kaziranga. Analyzing the historical changes in the landscape is a necessary first step to understand the forces driving land use and land cover change in the Karbi Anglong ecosystem. This information can then be used to identify practices, understand drivers and then design management interventions and policies, as part of an integrated landscape approach. The forests of Karbi Anglong were analyzed through a GIS analysis of Landsat images from 1988 to 2016. Prior to classifying the forests, a succession and landscape dynamic model of this region was designed. Then a supervised classification was conducted throughout the northern Karbi Anglong hills to gain a full understanding of the forest structure and composition. Human influence has shaped the landscape of the northern Karbi Anglong hills, whereas of lately an extensification was observed, which qualitative interviews attribute to political instability. This observation could be proven by the analysis of the Landsat (5&8) imagery as large proportions of young succession and immature forests were found throughout the study area. In addition fewer young yum fields were found within the study area. Within this study we were able to establish a first result on landscape change that will serve as the foundation for future work in developing a landscape approach in the Karbi Anglong hills. (Texte intégral)

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