International Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 3 Issue 3 2012- November 2012    Pages: 1038-1056  <<Previous    Next>>

Monitoring land cover change, degradation, and restoration of the Hyrcanian forests in northern Iran (1977–2010)

Author Information:

Joorabian Shooshtari SH1, Hosseini S.M2, Esmaili-Sari. A3, Gholamalifard. M4

1, 3, 4- Department of Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources and Marine Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Noor, Mazandaran, Iran

2- Department of Forestry, Faculty of Natural Resources and Marine Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Noor, Mazandaran, Iran


Hyrcanian forests are unique, and critically important from the viewpoint of soil conservation, gentler air, relative humidity of the environment, water permeability, wood production, wildlife habitat, and recreation. Though these forests are an international treasure, they have suffered from the development of agricultural lands, commercial and industrial exploitation, indiscriminate cutting, excessive grazing, air pollution from rising fuel consumption, and management shortcomings. Through these processes, forests have been destroyed, and their cover area has been reduced. We used sensors of the MSS, TM, ETM + and ALOS AVNIR-2 for the years 1977, 1987, 2001, and 2010 to investigate land cover changes and reduction of hyrcanian forests in northern Iran. From these four years, three study periods were measured: 1977–1987, 1987–2001, and 2001–2010. The dominant type of cover in northern Iran was hyrcanian forest and then agriculture during the study period. The annual rate of deforestation was –0.06%. Agriculture and rivers during 1977–2010 were reduced at an annual rate of –0.75% and –0.02%. Residential, orchard, and transportation increased at an annual rate of 2.88%, 5.88%, and 0.99%, respectively, during the whole study period. 85.10% of the region's cover didn't change cover during the first period and the most changes occurred in this interval. 88.88% and 87.63% of the landscape persisted during the second and third periods, respectively. Forest class between the years of 1977–2001 showed a decreasing trend, but 294 hectares of additional forest area was added in 2010 over 2001. However, given their importance, these forests should be seriously protected through afforestation, forest restoration, and preventative measures; otherwise, these forests will not be able to provide their ecological services and functions. The results of this study provide useful information for planning and management, impact assessment of development projects, and the identification of hot spots and vulnerable areas.

Keywords: Land Cover Change, LCM, Remote Sensing, Deforestation, Hyrcanian Forests, Iran.


© 2012 Copyright by the authors, licensee Integrated Publishing Association.This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (3.0) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The electronic version of the article can be downloaded below

Download full text pdf

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend