Linking land cover dynamics with driving forces using Earth Observation data

Linking land cover dynamics with driving forces in mountain landscape of the Northwestern Iberian Peninsula

In a new study published in the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, in collaboration with members of GRUMETS lab (CREAF and Autonomous Univ. of Barcelona), we have used earth observation data acquired from Landsat TM and ETM + satellite sensors, complemented by ancillary data and prior field knowledge, to evaluate the land use/land cover changes in Gerês–Xurés Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (NW Iberiaiconon Peninsula) over a 10-year period (2000–2010). To describe the land cover changes we addressed the analysis from a multilevel approach in three areas with different regimes of environmental protection. The possible impact of wildfires was assessed from statistical and spatially explicit fire data. Our findings suggest that land abandonment and forestry activities are the main factors causing the changes in landscape patterns. Specifically, we found a strong decrease of the ‘meadows and crops’ and ‘sparse vegetation areas’ in favor of woodlands and scrublands. In addition, the huge impact of wildfires on the Portuguese side have generated new ‘rocky areas’, while on the Spanish side its impact does not seem to have been a decisive factor on the landscape dynamics in recent years. We conclude rural exodus of the last century, differences in land management and fire suppression policies between the two countries and the different protection schemes could partly explain the different patterns of changes recorded in these covers.

Our study complements those works previously carried out in other marginal areas of Iberian Peninsula providing new insights into the driving forces determining land cover dynamics, as well as contributes to add value to Landsat data-based analysis into land dynamics science.

Regos, A., Ninyerola, M., Moré, G., Pons, X., 2015. Linking land cover dynamics with driving forces in mountain landscape of the Northwestern Iberian Peninsula. Int. J. Appl. Earth Obs. Geoinf. 38, 1–14.


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