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Quantifying and predicting multi-decadal forest cover changes in Myanmar: a biodiversity hotspot under threat

Reddy, C. Sudhakar, Pasha, S. Vazeed, Satish, K. V., Unnikrishnan, Anjaly, Chavan, Sapana B., Jha, C. S., Diwakar, P. G., Dadhwal, V. K.
Biodiversity and conservation 2019 v.28 no.5 pp. 1129-1149
biodiversity, databases, deforestation, forest resources, forests, habitat fragmentation, land use change, models, prediction, Myanmar
The focus of the study was to develop a nation-wide forest cover database of Myanmar by assessing and predicting the forest cover changes in the period of 1950 to 2027. This study estimated the net changes in forests at regional level along with spatial patterns of forest fragmentation using multi-source data. The results indicate forest area representing as 77.1%, 65.3%, 54.1% and 50.6% of the total geographical area of Myanmar during 1950, 1975, 2005 and 2016 respectively. This study predicted the forest cover changes in Myanmar using Module for Land use change evaluation. The five spatial variables were used to determine the relationship between deforestation and explanatory variables. The predicted forest cover of Myanmar for 2027 shows 48.4% of total geographical area under forest. The model predicted a further decrease of 14,878 km² of forest area in Myanmar between 2016 and 2027. The forest cover loss analysed using the classified maps of 1950 and 2016 indicated an overall loss of 34.4% of the forest cover. Ayeyarwady, Mandalay and Nayi Pyi Taw were found to be showing the highest rate of deforestation in the recent period of 2005–2016. This study has provided an insight for understanding of long-term deforestation trends of Myanmar. It offers a valuable inputs for effective management of forest resources and restoration programs as it delineates and forecast the spatial changes in forests from past to future.