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Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (2013)

Multi-scale targeting of land degradation in northern Uzbekistan using satellite remote sensing

Dubovyk Olena

Titre : Multi-scale targeting of land degradation in northern Uzbekistan using satellite remote sensing

Auteur : Dubovyk Olena

Université de soutenance : Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

Grade : Dr. rer. nat 2013

Advancing land degradation (LD) in the irrigated agro-ecosystems of Uzbekistan hinders sustainable development of this predominantly agricultural country. Until now, only sparse and out-of-date information on current land conditions of the irrigated cropland has been available. An improved understanding of this phenomenon as well as operational tools for LD monitoring is therefore a pre-requisite for multi-scale targeting of land rehabilitation practices and sustainable land management. This research aimed to enhance spatial knowledge on the cropland degradation in the irrigated agro-ecosystems in northern Uzbekistan to support policy interventions on land rehabilitation measures. At the regional level, the study combines linear trend analysis, spatial relational analysis, and logistic regression modeling to expose the LD trend and to analyze the causes. Time series of 250-m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), summed over the growing seasons of 2000-2010, were used to determine areas with an apparent negative vegetation trend ; this was interpreted as an indicator of LD. The assessment revealed a significant decline in cropland productivity across 23% (94,835 ha) of the arable area. The results of the logistic modeling indicate that the spatial pattern of the observed trend is mainly associated with the level of the groundwater table, land-use intensity, low soil quality, slope, and salinity of the groundwater. To quantify the extent of the cropland degradation at the local level, this research combines object-based change detection and spectral mixture analysis for vegetation cover decline mapping based on multitemporal Landsat TM images from 1998 and 2009. Spatial distribution of fields with decreased vegetation cover is mainly associated with abandoned cropland and land with inherently low-fertility soils located on the outreaches of the irrigation system and bordering natural sandy deserts. The comparison of the Landsat-based map with the LD trend map yielded an overall agreement of 93%. The proposed methodological approach is a useful supplement to the commonly applied trend analysis for detecting LD in cases when plot-specific data are needed but satellite time series of high spatial resolution are not available. To contribute to land rehabilitation options, a GIS-based multi-criteria decision-making approach is elaborated for assessing suitability of degraded irrigated cropland for establishing Elaeagnus angustifolia L. plantations while considering the specific environmental setting of the irrigated agro-ecosystems. The approach utilizes expert knowledge, fuzzy logic, and weighted linear combination to produce a suitability map for the degraded irrigated land. The results reveal that degraded cropland has higher than average suitability potential for afforestation with E. angustifolia. The assessment allows improved understanding of the spatial variability of suitability of degraded irrigated cropland for E. angustifolia and, subsequently, for better-informed spatial planning decisions on land restoration. The results of this research can serve as decision-making support for agricultural planners and policy makers, and can also be used for operational monitoring of cropland degradation in irrigated lowlands in northern Uzbekistan. The elaborated approach can also serve as a basis for LD assessments in similar irrigated agro-ecosystems in Central Asia and elsewhere.


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