CHANGE DETECTION ANALYSIS OF FORESTED AREA IN THE TRANSITION ZONE AT HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK, CENTRAL MONGOLIA

  • Bayarsaikhan, Uudus (School of Earth and Environmental Science, Natural Science College, Seoul National University, Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Faculty of Biology, National University of Mongolia) ;
  • Boldgiv, Bazartseren (Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Faculty of Biology, National University of Mongolia) ;
  • Kim, Kyung-Ryul (School of Earth and Environmental Science, Natural Science College, Seoul National University) ;
  • Park, Kyeng-Ae (School of Earth and Environmental Science, Natural Science College, Seoul National University)
  • Published : 2007.10.31

Abstract

One of the widely used applications of remote sensing studies is environmental change detection and biodiversity conservation. The study area Hustai Mountain is situated in the transition zone between the Siberian taiga forest and Central Mongolian arid steppe. Hustai National Park carries out one of several reintroduction programs of takhi (wild horse or Equus ferus przewalskii) from various zoos in the world and it represents one of a few textbook examples of successful reintroduction of an animal extinct in the wild. In this paper we describe the results of an analysis on the change of remaining forest area over the 7-year period since Hustai Mountain was designated as a protected area for reintroduction to wild horses. Today the forested area covers approximately 5% of the Hustai National Park, mostly the north-facing slopes above 1400 m altitude. Birch (Betula platyphylla) and aspen (Populus tremula) trees are predominant in the forest. We used Landsat ETM+ images from two different years and multi temporal MODIS NDVI data. Land types were determined by supervised classification methods (Maximum Likelihood algorithm) verified with ground-truthing data and the Land Change Modeler (LCM) which was developed by Clark Labs. Forested area was classified into three different land types, namely the forest land, mountain meadow and mountain steppe. The study results illustrate that the remaining birch forest has rapidly changed to fragmented forest land and to open areas. Underlying causes for such a rapid change during the 15-year period may be manifold. However, the responsible factors appear to be the drying off and outbreak of forest pest species (such as gypsy moth or Lymantria dispar) in the area.