Recent Forest Cover Changes (2002-2015) in the Southern Carpathians: A Case Study of the Iezer Mountains, Romania

Sci Total Environ. 2017 Dec 1;599-600:2166-2174. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.04.226. Epub 2017 May 29.

Abstract

The paper explores the dynamics of the forest cover change in the Iezer Mountains, part of Southern Carpathians, in the context of the forest ownership recovery and deforestation processes, combined with the effects of biotic and abiotic disturbances. The aim of the study is to map and evaluate the typology and the spatial extension of changes in the montane forest cover between 700 and 2462m a.s.l., sampling all the representative Carpathian ecosystems, from the European beech zone up to the spruce-fir zone and the subalpine-alpine pastures. The methodology uses a change detection analysis of satellite imagery with Landsat ETM+/OLI and Sentinel-2 MSI data. The workflow started with a complete calibration of multispectral data from 2002, before the massive forest restitution to private owners, after the Law 247/2005 empowerment, and 2015, the intensification of deforestation process. For the data classification, a Maximum Likelihood supervised classification algorithm was utilized. The forest change map was developed after combining the classifications in a unitary formula using image difference. The principal outcome of the research identifies the type of forest cover change using a quantitative formula. This information can be integrated in the future decision-making strategies for forest stand management and sustainable development.

Keywords: Change detection; Deforestation; Forest management; Landsat ETM+/OLI; Sentinel-2 MSI.