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(searched for: doi:10.22215/cria.v3i0.123)
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Published: 13 February 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
In Syria, 76% of the forests are located in the Syrian coast region. This region is witnessing a rapid depletion of forest cover during the conflict that broke out in mid-2011. To date, there have been no studies providing accurate, reliable, and comprehensive data on the qualitative and quantitative aspects of forest change dynamics and the underlying drivers behind this change. In this study, changes in the dynamics of forest cover and its density between 2010 and 2020 were detected and analyzed using multi-temporal Landsat images. This study also analyzed the relationship between changes in forest cover and selected physical and socio-demographic variables associated with the drivers of change. The results revealed that the study area witnessed a significant decrease in the total forest area (31,116.0 ha, 24.3%) accompanied by a considerable decrease in density, as the area of dense forests decreased by 11,778.0 ha (9.2%) between 2010 and 2020. The change in forest cover was driven by a variety of different factors related to the conflict. The main drivers were changes in economic and social activities, extensive exploitation of forest resources, frequent forest fires, and weakness of state institutions in managing natural resources and environmental development. Forest loss was also linked to the expansion of cultivated area, increase in population and urban area. Fluctuating climatic conditions are not a major driver of forest cover dynamics in the study area. This decrease in forest area and density reflects sharp shifts in the natural environment during the study period. In the foreseeable future, it is not possible to determine whether the changes in forest cover and its density will be permanent or temporary. Monitoring changes in forest cover and understanding the driving forces behind this change provides quantitative and qualitative information to improve planning and decision-making. The results of this study may draw the attention of decision-makers to take immediate actions and identify areas of initial intervention to protect current the forests of the Syrian coast region from loss and degradation, as well as develop policies for the sustainable management of forest resources in the long term.
Published: 11 July 2020
by MDPI
Abstract:
Understanding the effects of socio-ecological shocks on land use/land cover (LULC) change is essential for developing land management strategies and for reducing adverse environmental pressures. Our study examines the impacts of the armed conflict in Syria, which began in mid-2011, and the related social and economic crisis on LULC between 2010 and 2018. We used remote sensing for change detection by applying a supervised maximum likelihood classification to Landsat images of the three target years 2010, 2014, and 2018. Based on the computed extent of our LULC classes and accuracy assessment, we calculated area-adjusted estimates and 95% confidence intervals. Our classification achieved an overall accuracy of 86.4%. Compared to 2010, we found an increase in spatial extent for bare areas (40,011 km2), forests (2576 km2), and urban and peri-urban areas (3560 km2), whereas rangelands (37,005 km2) and cultivated areas (9425 km2) decreased by 2018. It is not possible to determine whether the changes in LULC in Syria will be permanent or temporary. Natural conditions such as climate fluctuations had an impact on the uses of the natural environment and cultivated areas during the study period, especially in regions suffering from water stress. Although seasonal precipitation patterns and temperature affect LULC change, however, we could not identify a prevailing climate trend towards more drought-prone conditions. Our analysis focuses on (potential) direct and indirect implications of the Syrian conflict on LULC change, which most notably occurred between 2014 and 2018. Conflict-related main drivers were human activities and demographic changes, which are mainly attributable to large-scale population displacement, military operations, concomitant socio-economic status, and control of local resources. As the study provides quantitative and qualitative information on the dynamics of LULC changes in Syria, it may serve as a framework for further relevant conflict-related research and support planning, management practices, and sustainable development.
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