Researchers at IFP’s Ecology department, together with the Geomatics and Applied Informatics Laboratory have been studying the nature and causes of land use and land cover change in the Western Ghats for several decades now. The Forest Map of South India was systematically developed using fieldwork and data between the 1970s and 1990s. More recently, the use of new satellite imagery and derived data products to update selected areas of the forest map has allowed us to develop a time-series of landcover information that can be examined to determine the location, extent and drivers of change. Our specific objectives are as follows:
1. Update and expand the existing spatial databases of the Western Ghats regions with new data, as well as socio-economic and expanded data layers.
2. Research the drivers of landscape change, ecosystem services, and socio-economic outcomes in the Western Ghats.
3. Explore and develop interdisciplinary and collaborative research links and new integrative directions to address land and water management.
Conservation and sustainable development face major challenges from the various demands on land and resources. Our approach has been interdisciplinary, examining multiple forms of land use change, and employing research methods that can aggregate, combine, and evaluate place-based information, involving multiple factors across a range of spatial scales.
We developed a geospatial-database of the study area by combining a number of spatially-explicit environmental and socio-economic variables within a GIS. Data was derived from several sources, geo-referenced, overlaid and aggregated to common spatial units, such as sub-district polygons, rasters of specific resolution, and vector grids.
These will be used to identify clusters of land change and principal drivers. Combined social and ecological effects and feedbacks will be studied to evaluate novel conservation and management scenarios.