Geo-Informatics for Land Use and Biodiversity Studies

Geo-Informatics for Land Use and Biodiversity Studies

P. K. Joshi (TERI University, India) and Neena Priyanka (TERI University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-619-0.ch003
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The dynamics of land use/land cover (LU/LC) is a manifestation of the cyclic correlation among the kind and magnitude of causes, impacts, responses and resulting ecological processes of the ecosystem. Thus, the holistic understanding of the complex mechanisms that control LU/LC requires synergetic adoption of measurement approaches, addressing issues, and identifying drivers of change and state of art technologies for mitigation measures. As the spatio-temporal heterogeneity of the LU/LC increases, its impact on biodiversity becomes even more difficult to anticipate. Thus, in order to understand the spatio-temporal dynamics of change in landscape and its relationship to biodiversity, it is necessary to reliably identify and quantify the indicators of change. In addition, it is also important to have better understanding of the technologies and techniques that serve as complimentary tool for land mitigation and conservation planning. Against this background, the chapter aims to synthesize LU/LC studies worldwide and their impacts on biodiversity. This chapter explores identification and analysis of key natural, socio-economic and regulatory drivers for LU/LC. Finally, it attempts to collate some LU/LC studies involving usage of geospatial tools, such as satellite remote sensing, Geographic Information System (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS), and integrative tools, besides conventional approaches that could assist decision makers, land managers, stakeholders and researchers in better management and formulation of conservation strategies based on scientific grounds.
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1. Introduction

Land use (LU) term entails the manner in which human beings employ the land and its resources (Ramachandra & Kumar, 2004; GLP, 2005; Castella et al., 2007; Encyclopedia of Earth, 2007) whereas Land cover (LC) implies the physical or natural state of the Earth’s surface (GLP, 2005; Castella et al., 2007; Encyclopedia of Earth, 2007). The change in both LU and LC is intertwined with multiple socio-economic issues such as loss of biodiversity (Murthy et al., 2003), sustainability of agriculture (Gordon et al., 2008), provision of maintaining water and soil quality (NRCS, 2007), climate change and carbon cycle (Turner, 2004). Hence, in order to use land optimally, it is not only necessary to have the information on existing LU/LC but also the capability to monitor the dynamics of LU resulting from both changing demands of increasing population and forces of nature acting to shape the landscape. Conventional ground methods based on sampling techniques of LU/LC mapping are labor intensive, time consuming and are done relatively infrequently and thus become outdated rather soon with the passage of time, particularly in a rapid changing environment. In fact monitoring changes and time series analysis is quite difficult with traditional methods of surveying. In recent years, technologies such as satellite remote sensing, Global Positioning System (GPS), and integrative tools, such as Geographical Information System (GIS) and information systems, together form the basis for Geo-informatics, facilitate the synoptic analyses and monitoring of such dynamic land system function, pattern, and change at local, regional and global scales over time (Lee et al., 1999; Sedano et al., 2005; Navalgund et al., 2007; Roy & Giriraj, 2008). The data assembled using such techniques also provide an important link between intensive, localized ecological research and regional, national and international conservation and management of biological diversity (Roy & Tomar, 2000, Sharma et al., 2008). In case of inaccessible regions, these techniques are perhaps the best methods for obtaining the required data in a cost effective and efficient way.

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