Earth Observation based Forest Monitoring and Conservation in Biodiversity Hotspots of South Asia

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Forest, Threat, Hotspots, Conservation, Spatial Indicators
Sudhakar Reddy C, S. Vazeed Pasha K.V. Satish
Biodiversity hotspots are large regions where exceptional concentrations of biodiversity and plant endemism exists. Biodiversity hotspots have become a tool for settingconservation priorities. The role of earth observation data in biodiversity monitoring was recognised in globally agreed biodiversity targets to be achieved by 2020. Earth Observation data provides unique information on biodiversity with reference to composition, structure, function and disturbance across the scales. This study presents state of art earth observation based analysis for forest biodiversity and conservation in ‘biodiversity hotspots’ of South Asian countries. The spatial indicators of biodiversity derived from multi-temporal satellite data in terms of land cover, forest cover monitoring, forest type area and change, forest fragmentation, fire occurrence and protected area representation was analysed. Forest cover change analysis indicates highest loss (36%) of forest area in Western Ghats-Sri Lanka hotspot followed by Indo-Burma (parts of Bangladesh, Andaman and North East India), Himalayas (parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Afghanistan) and Sundaland (Nicobar) over last eight decades. Forest fragmentation had major spatial variation across the biodiversity hotspots. Fire monitoring specifies widespread occurrence of fires in deciduous forests of Indo-Burma and Western Ghats from 2005 to 2016. Analysis for forest cover change from 2005 to 2014 indicates increasing conservation effectiveness in Himalayas, Western Ghats-Sri Lanka and part of Sundaland except Indo-Burma. The results demonstrate ensured long-term continuity of earth observations as a key requirement for understanding of biodiversity change and contribute to achieve sustainable development goals.
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