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Title: Multi-Criteria Assessment of Land Cover Dynamic Changes in Halgurd Sakran National Park (HSNP), Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Using Remote Sensing and GIS
Authors: Hamad, Rahel
Balzter, Heiko
Kolo, Kamal
First Published: 7-Mar-2017
Publisher: MDPI
Citation: Land, 2017, 6 (1), 18
Abstract: Halgurd Sakran National Park (HSNP) is Iraq’s first designated national park, located in the Kurdistan Region, which has suffered multiple armed conflicts over the past decades. This study assesses how vegetation dynamics have affected the landscape structure and composition of the core zone of the park over the last 31 years. Spatio-temporal changes in land cover were mapped for three points in time using remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and landscape metrics. Land cover changes were mapped using random forest classifications of satellite images from Landsat 5 TM, Landsat 7 ETM+, and Landsat 8 LDCM acquired in 1984, 1998, and 2015. Five landscape pattern metrics were analysed at class and landscape levels in order to quantify landscape patterns arising from land use and land cover (LULC) change in HSNP using FRAGSTATS 4.2. These landscape pattern metrics were patch metrics, area metrics, shape metrics interspersion/juxtaposition and contagion metrics and diversity metrics. Significant changes in cultivated areas after 1991 were observed, which indicate the role of anthropogenic activities in land cover change. Areas of bare surface and forest lands declined and became more fragmented in 1984 and 1998 while, at the same time, cultivated areas increased, with a continuing fragmentation of pasture land. Internal migration of people was one of the major drivers of LULC change. The results reveal that significant LULC changes in terms of composition and spatial structure over the 31-year period have occurred in the designated protected area. Landscape metrics were able to assess the trend of spatial patchiness over the studied period. A discussion of the significance of changes in land use systems for understanding the causes and consequences of change is provided.
DOI Link: 10.3390/land6010018
ISSN: 2073-445X
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2017. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geography

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