, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 547-563

Vegetation cover type mapping in mouling national park in Arunachal Pradesh, Eastern Himalayas- an integrated geospatial approach

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Abstract

Improving image classification and its techniques have been of interest while handling satellite data especially in hilly regions with evergreen forests particularly with indistinct ecotones. In the present study an attempt has been made to classify evergreen forests/vegetation in Moulirig National Park of Arunachal Pradesh in Eastern Himalayas using conventional unsupervised classification algorithms in conjunction with DEM. The study area represents climax vegetation and can be broadly classified into tropical, subtropical, temperate and sub-alpine forests. Vegetation pattern in the study area is influenced strongly by altitude, slope, aspect and other climatic factors. The forests are mature, undisturbed and intermixed with close canopy. Rugged terrain and elevation also affect the reflectance. Because of these discrimination among the various forest/vegetation types is restrained on satellite data. Therefore, satellite data in optical region have limitations in pattern recognition due to similarity in spectral response caused by several factors. Since vegetation is controlled by elevation among other factors, digital elevation model (DEM) was integrated with the LISS III multiband data. The overall accuracy improved from 40.81 to 83.67%. Maximum-forested area (252.80 km2) in national park is covered by sub-tropical evergreen forest followed by temperate broad-leaved forest (147.09 km2). This is probably first attempt where detailed survey of remote and inhospitable areas of Semang sub-watershed, in and around western part of Mouling Peak and adjacent areas above Bomdo-Egum and Ramsingh from eastern and southern side have been accessed for detailed ground truth collection for vegetation mapping (on 1:50,000 scale) and characterization. The occurrence of temperate conifer forests and Rhododendron Scrub in this region is reported here for the first time. The approach of DEM integrated with satellite data can be useful for vegetation and land cover mapping in rugged terrains like in Himalayas.