Main content area

Assessing rangeland cover conversion in Jordan after the Arab spring using a remote sensing approach

Sawalhah, Mohammed N., Al-Kofahi, Salman D., Othman, Yahia A., Cibils, Andres F.
Journal of arid environments 2018 v.157 pp. 97-102
Landsat, cropland, desertification, dry environmental conditions, forests, human settlements, land degradation, land management, population growth, rangelands, remote sensing, spring, statistical analysis, urban areas, Jordan
The influence of population growth and Syrian refugee settlements on rangeland degradation in Jordan using remotely-sensed data was assessed. Eleven cloud-free Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) Images that cover the study area were used. Maximum likelihood classifier was applied to estimate rangeland, cropland, urban, water and forest cover percentages over the study area for the period 2013–2015. Change detection analysis of both 2013 and 2015 images revealed a dramatic expansion of urban lands and a consequent reduction in rangelands, especially in north-western Jordan. Our analysis suggests that Jordanian rangeland area decreased by 9.6%, forests by 1.5% and water by 0.6% during the study period (2013–2015). Meanwhile, urban lands increased by 11.4% and croplands by 0.2%. We attributed this change mainly to Syrian civil war and refugee settlements. This settlement process increased the demand for food and water and accelerated desertification processes in Jordanian rangelands, especially those in the north-western region. Our study underscores the value of using remotely sensed data as a viable approach to quantify degradation in Middle Eastern rangelands. Overall, we suggest initiating rigorous urban settlement regulations and land conservation control programs to mitigate land degradation in Jordanian rangelands.