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Stimulus of developmental projects to landscape dynamics in Uttara Kannada, Central Western Ghats

Ramachandra, T.V., Setturu, Bharath, Rajan, K.S., Subash Chandran, M.D.
The Egyptian Journal of Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (Online) 2016 v.19 no.2 pp. 175-193
data collection, deforestation, ecosystem services, ecosystems, evergreen forests, food security, forest land, hills, horticulture, hydrologic cycle, industrialization, issues and policy, land degradation, land use and land cover maps, landscapes, livelihood, monitoring, nuclear power, people, pulp and paper mills, social factors, spatial data, streams, urbanization, India
Unplanned large scale developmental projects in recent times have been causing alterations in land use land cover [LULC] at spatial and temporal scales with the substantial changes in the landscape. Uttara Kannada district has the distinction of having highest forest cover in India. Forest ecosystems in the district have witnessed major transformations due to industrialization during the post-independence. Impact of developmental activities during the post-independence era, is evident from barren hill tops due to deforestation. The analysis of temporal spatial data acquired through space borne sensors highlights the decline of evergreen-semi evergreen forest cover from 67.73% (1973) to 32.08% (2013). The ad-hoc approaches adopted in the implementation of developmental projects in the ecologically sensitive regions has impaired the ecosystem services affecting the people’s livelihood. The changes in the landscape structure with LULC changes have altered the functional abilities of an ecosystem evident from lowered hydrological yield, disappearing perennial streams, higher instances of human–animal conflicts, declined ecosystem goods, etc. About 64355Ha of forest land is diverted for various non-forestry activities during the last four decades by the government apart from encroachment of 7072Ha of forest area for agriculture, horticulture activities, etc. Encroachment of forest land has resulted in the land degradation leading to reduced productivity. Alterations in bio-geo chemical and hydrological cycles have necessitated the restoration of native forests in the region to ensure water and food security, and livelihood of the local people. Monitoring and visualization of landscape dynamics helps in evolving appropriate management strategies. LULC dynamics analyses considering agents (developmental projects) through fuzzy analytic hierarchy process (AHP) integrated with Markov cellular automata (CA) indicate the developmental projects such as West Coast Paper Mill (WCPM) and Kaiga Nuclear Power House (KNPH) will lead to further fragmentation of forests with spurt in urbanization by 2022. This necessitates framing appropriate policy measures to sustain natural resources focusing on the landscape’s ecological, hydrological, economic and social factors.