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Landscape structural analysis of the Lençóis Maranhenses national park: implications for conservation

Amaral, Yuri Teixeira, Santos, Edyane Moraes dos, Ribeiro, Milton Cézar, Barreto, Larissa
Journal for nature conservation 2019 v.51 pp. 125725
agroforestry, anthropogenic activities, coasts, conservation areas, crops, dunes, ecosystems, grasslands, habitats, indigenous species, land use change, landscapes, national parks, remote sensing, soil, surface water, vegetation cover, villages, wetlands
Our work evaluated the anthropic effects on the landscape structure of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (LMNP) and its Buffer Zone, and proposed strategies for the region’s conservation. LMNP is an important protected area in Brazilian north coast which protects a unique wetland ecosystem composed of sand dunes fields and a coastal vegetation called restinga. Supervised mapping of LMNP and a surrounding buffer of 3 km was carried out through high resolution and fine scale (1:5000) satellite images. The mapped area was subdivided in 1000 ha hexagonal Analysis Units (AU) and the following landscape metrics were calculated for each one of them: cover area (CA) of each soil cover class - dune fields (CA-DUNES), water bodies (CA-WATER), dense restinga (CADENSE), scattered restinga (CA-SCATTER), grassland (CA-SANDY), mangroves (CA-MANG), anthropogenic activity (CA-ANTRO) and, secondary vegetation (CA-SECOND); Landscape Shannon Diversity Index (SHDI), and; percentage of native vegetation cover (NV−COV). Pearson correlations were performed between the CA of each class and SHDI to identify the classes most correlated to CA-ANTRO. Our results showed that anthropic classes (crops, trails, and villages) had a stronger correlation (Pearson Correlation, r ≈ 0.65) with phytophysiognomies of dense restinga, secondary vegetation and SHDI, thus indicating that the land use conversion occurs in dense restinga areas and promotes vegetation secondarization, as well as increasing fragmentation. At least, 42% of the dense restinga habitats was destroyed due to human activities. Five conservation and restoration strategies were proposed in a local scale depending on the percentage of native vegetation cover on each AU, from the most to less conserved: (a) only conservation; (b) conservation with management; (c) management; (d) management and restoration; and, (e) restoration. The implementation of Agroforestry Systems with agro-successional restoration goals was recommended as an alternative for land use.