GIS Analyst, Mountain Environment and Natural Resources’ Information Systems (MENRIS)
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal
During the past few decades, mountain areas throughout the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region have experienced rapid change. Expansion in education and health services, the development of roads and electricity, improvements in irrigation and agricultural and related technologies, and the penetration of commercial forces are drastically affecting land cover and ecosystems of many parts of the mountain areas. Each of these factors contributes with varying degree to the change dynamics of mountain areas. A contributory factor may be applicable in one area, but not in another. It is therefore important to study and understand the dynamics of land use and land cover change and determine which factor contributes significantly in a specific area before proper land use planning can be done. This process, first, required a standard methodology to understand and explain the pattern of land cover of the region. With this concept, ICIMOD formulated and initiated a project for land cover mapping of the region in 1999. A methodological study for the land cover mapping of the region has been carried out and developed. The methodology, which is based on GIS and remote sensing (RS), has been tested for the land cover mapping of Bhutan and Nepal using IRS-WiFs data. The study mainly focused on how to generate reliable and good training samples, those are spectrally homogenous and spatially significant, for the accurate classification of the image. The study also integrated other information, e.g. DEM (Digital Elevation Model), rainfall, and temperature, with the land cover map classified from the image for the detailed forest type classification. Accuracy assessment of the result was done to validate the methodology and showed a satisfactory accuracy of 83 and 88 percent for Bhutan and Nepal, respectively.