IDENTIFICATION OF FOREST COVER CHANGES IN POLONNARUWA DISTRICT OF SRI LANKA

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Year:
2016
Type of Publication:
In Proceedings
Keywords:
DEFORESTATION, GHG EMISSION, ARCGIS
Authors:
G. M. T. S. Fernando, ; Edussuriya, C. H.
Abstract:
Forest covers influence on all the components of earth system such as atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere. Forest is a major natural carbon stork of the earth surface which helps to reduce the concentration of green house gases (GHGs) in atmosphere. It causes to reduce the runoff rate and evaporation rate of water and increase the infiltration rate and groundwater level. Especially it is very important, having the forest covers in dry areas to recharge the groundwater and mitigate the drought impacts. Expansions of human settlementsand development projects invade the forest covers arising many physical, biological and environmental problems.This research aims to identify the forest cover changes in Polonnaruwa districts from 1972 to 2014. Basically three segments were considered to identify the forest cover changes in district as before, during the war and after war periods. 1972 and 1985forest covers were considered to the period of before war and 1972 forest extent was derived using one inch map of survey department. 1985 forest cover extent was identified from the 1:100,000 land use map of survey department. Forest cover of war period was developed with 1:50,000 data in 2001. Present forest cover was derived using satellite images in 2014. Arc GIS 10.1 software used for the analysis and all the forest layers were digitized for the area calculations. The result shows a considerable extent of forest cover loss in Polonnaruwa district. In 1972 forest cover extent of the district was 2603.5 sqkm and after a decade this extent was reduced to 1373.7 sqkm. As well as it was clearly identified that in the war period this extent was again increased up to 1529 sqkm in 2001. Since then forest cover had been reduced to 1331 sqkm in 2015 as a result of human activities and development projects.Results show, 48% of total forest cover has been declined by human activities within four decades in Polonnaruwa district. With the present political situation of the country, there is a probability to introduce new development projects for Polonnaruwa district. As such final outcome of this research will help for planning new development projects with paying especial consideration to the minimum effects on forest cover in the district.
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