How natural are the forests in Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarhole) Tiger Reserve? A multi-source data approach

Swarada, B and Pasha, SV and Dadhwal, VK (2024) How natural are the forests in Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarhole) Tiger Reserve? A multi-source data approach. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 196 (:444). pp. 1-17.

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Abstract: This study aimed to monitor long-term land use dynamics for understanding the natural forest integrity and intactness of the Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarhole) Tiger Reserve (RTR) pre- and post-declarations as TR. We employed multi-source data from Survey of India Toposheets (1:50 k), Landsat-7, and Sentinel-2A along with Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) vegetation canopy height (10 m) data, a high-spatial resolution CORONA (1970) images and temporal Google Earth Pro images for mapping and validation. To map vegetation type, land use and land cover (LULC) transitions, and fragmentation (1980–2022) we employed a hybrid classification approach. This study also analyzed decadal forest dynamics within TRs using India’s State of Forest Reports (ISFR). Findings reveal significant forest fragmentation and habitat loss due to anthropogenic activities in the TR. Mono-plantations (teak and eucalyptus) were found inside TR, while the buffer (1 km) was occupied mainly with coffee and orange plantations which indicates the prevalence of human footprint. The overall accuracy of the current period (2022) is 92.0% with a kappa coefficient value of 0.90. These plantations were established during the British colonial period (early 1900s) for commercial purposes by clearing natural forests. The present study highlights that mono-plantations have not transitioned into natural forests even after a century. This lack of transformation could potentially compromise the integrity of the native forest. Despite its ecological significance, RTR has experienced disturbance due to human footprint. Hence, there is a need for an action plan to protect this vital landscape by replacing mono-plantations with suitable species to preserve the integrity of the forest. These issues extend beyond the protected areas, impacting surrounding regions and require regular monitoring. The proposed methods can be applied to other protected areas facing similar problems in the country and world.
Item Type: Journal Paper
Subjects: School of Natural and Engineering Sciences > Environment
School of Natural and Engineering Sciences > Energy and Environment Modeling
Divisions: Schools > Natural Sciences and Engineering
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2024 05:48
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2024 06:10
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