Land cover change modelling in Hyrcanian forests, Northern Iran: a landscape pattern and transformation analysis perspective

S.J. Shooshtari, K. Shayesteh, M. Gholamalifard, M. Azari, J.I. López-Moreno


The main objective of this study is to analyze the spatio-temporal changes in land cover and land use, (1984–2010), as well to simulate future land cover for 2030 in the Neka River Basin, including the Hyrcanian forest, in northern Iran. For this purpose, we used detailed land cover maps for the years 1984, 2001 and 2010. The results showed that the highest deforestation occurred in the boundaries between forest and agriculture areas between 1984 and 2010. Comparing the observed and predicted land cover in 2010 yielded agreement of 96.41%. From 1984 to 2010, landscape metrics showed that the forest area evolved to more fragmentation, with less shape complexity and less connectivity. Projections for the future are consistent with observed changes for the Neka landscape, with a tendency to continue disaggregating and increasing diversity in a number of different patch types. Between 2010 and 2030, we observed the arrival of new crops, rangelands, and urban areas within the remaining areas of homogeneous forest. Changes in the Hyrcanian forest will cause alteration in ecosystem services, such as erosion control, water yield, timber harvest, and ground water reservation. Results of this work may represent a useful tool to provide strategies and territorial planning for sustainable management of the fragile Hyrcanian forest ecosystems in the Neka Basin. 


Land change mode; Landscape índices; Landscape transformation analysis; Hyrcanian forests; Iran

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