LAND USE/LAND COVER CHANGES IN SEMI-ARID MOUNTAIN LANDSCAPE IN SOUTHERN INDIA: A GEOINFORMATICS BASED MARKOV CHAIN APPROACH
Keywords: Land cover, Markov, Kallar, NDVI, Drought, Geoinformatics
Abstract. Nowadays land use/ land cover in mountain landscape is in critical condition; it leads to high risky and uncertain environments. These areas are facing multiple stresses including degradation of land resources; vagaries of climate and depletion of water resources continuously affect land use practices and livelihoods. To understand the Land use/Land cover (Lu/Lc) changes in a semi-arid mountain landscape, Kallar watershed of Bhavani basin, in southern India has been chosen. Most of the hilly part in the study area covers with forest, plantation, orchards and vegetables and which are highly affected by severe soil erosion, landslide, frequent rainfall failures and associated drought. The foothill regions are mainly utilized for agriculture practices; due to water scarcity and meagre income, the productive agriculture lands are converted into settlement plots and wasteland. Hence, land use/land cover change deduction; a stochastic processed based method is indispensable for future prediction. For identification of land use/land cover, and vegetation changes, Landsat TM, ETM (1995, 2005) and IRS P6- LISS IV (2015) images were used. Through CAMarkov chain analysis, Lu/Lc changes in past three decades (1995, 2005, and 2015) were identified and projected for (2020 and 2025); Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were used to find the vegetation changes. The result shows that, maximum changes occur in the plantation and slight changes found in forest cover in the hilly terrain. In foothill areas, agriculture lands were decreased while wastelands and settlement plots were increased. The outcome of the results helps to farmer and policy makers to draw optimal lands use planning and better management strategies for sustainable development of natural resources.