Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 2141–2153 | Cite as

Land changes and their drivers in the cloud forest and coastal zone of Dhofar, Oman, between 1988 and 2013

  • Christopher S. GallettiEmail author
  • Billie L. TurnerII
  • Soe W. Myint
Original Article


The land-cover changes in the cloud forest and coastal plain of Dhofar, Oman, from 1988 to 2013 are reported, and their possible causes explored. Multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis, cluster analysis using local indicators of spatial association, and trend analysis of NDVI time series are used to measure environmental changes. The results demonstrate: systematic degradation and loss of vegetation types in the cloud forest; loss of native land covers to impervious surfaces on the coastal plain; decreases in woody plant vegetation in almost half of the cloud forest in distinctive hotspots of loss; and significant decreases in NDVI trends around the city of Salalah, along the coastal plain, and in parts of the cloud forest. The proximate drivers of these changes in the cloud forest appear to be changes in grazing activities, while the growth of Salalah, especially its peri-urban area, altered the coastal plain. These drivers, in turn, are linked to distal ones, foremost changes in Omani policies and investments in the Dhofar area, traced to government responses to the Dhofar War (1970–1975), which have resulted in increased livestock populations and urban growth.


Land cover Land change science Dhofar Cloud forest National policies Remote sensing 



Support for this research was provided in part by a Fulbright grant to Oman funded by the US Department of State and sponsored by the Office of the Advisor to His Majesty The Sultan for Economic Planning Affairs. Special thanks to Dr. Said Al-Saqri for support during the Fulbright grant period. The authors would also like to thank the reviewers for their insightful comments; the paper is greatly improved as a result of their efforts.

Supplementary material

10113_2016_942_MOESM1_ESM.docx (409 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 408 kb)


  1. Allen C, Rigsbee WL (2000) Oman under Qaboos: from coup to constitution, 1970–1996. Frank Cass Publishers, PortlandGoogle Scholar
  2. Alo CA, Pontius RG Jr (2008) Identifying systematic land-cover transitions using remote sensing and GIS: the fate of forests inside and outside protected areas of Southwestern Ghana. Environ Plan B Plan Des 35:280–295. doi: 10.1068/b32091 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. AlSarmi S, Washington R (2011) Recent observed climate change over the Arabian Peninsula. J Geophys Res 116:D11109. doi: 10.1029/2010JD015459 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anadón JD, Sala OE, Turner BL II, Bennett EM (2014) Effect of woody-plant encroachment on livestock production in North and South America. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111:12948–12953. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1320585111 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderson DM, Overpeck JT, Gupta AK (2002) Increase in the Asian southwest monsoon during the past four centuries. Science 297:596–599. doi: 10.1126/science.1072881 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anselin L (1995) Local indicators of spatial association. Geogr Anal 27:93–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Asner GP, Elmore AJ, Olander LP, Martin RE, Harris AT (2004) Grazing systems, ecosystem responses, and global change. Annu Rev Environ Resour 29:261–299. doi: 10.1146/ CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baatz M, Schape A (2000) Multiresolution Segmentation: an optimization approach for high quality multi-scale image segmentation. In: Strobl J, Blaschke T, Griesebner G (eds) Angewandte Geographische Informationsverarbeitung XII. Wichmann Verlag, Karlsruhe, pp 12–23Google Scholar
  9. Bai ZG, Dent DL, Olsson L, Schaepman ME (2008) Proxy global assessment of land degradation. Soil Use Manag 24:223–234. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2008.00169.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Benz U, Hofmann P, Willhauck G, Lingenfelder I, Heynen M (2004) Multi-resolution, object-oriented fuzzy analysis of remote sensing data for GIS-ready information. ISPRS J Photogramm Remote Sens 58:239–258. doi: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2003.10.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Blaschke T (2010) Object based image analysis for remote sensing. ISPRS J Photogramm Remote Sens 65:2–16. doi: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2009.06.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boardman JW, Kruse FA, Green RO (1995) Mapping target signatures via partial unmixing of AVIRIS data. In: Summaries of JPL Airborne earth science workshop, JPL Publication 95-1, Pasadena, CA, pp 23–26Google Scholar
  13. Brannstrom C, Vadjunec JM (2014) Land change science, political ecology and sustainability: synergies and divergences. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  14. Charabi Y, Abdul-Wahab SA (2009) Synoptic aspects of the summer monsoon of southern Oman and its global teleconnections. J Geophys Res Atmos 114:1–9. doi: 10.1029/2008JD010234 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dawelbait M, Morari F (2012) Monitoring desertification in a Savannah region in Sudan using Landsat images and spectral mixture analysis. J Arid Environ 80:45–55. doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.12.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. de Jong R, Verbesselt J, Schaepman ME, de Bruin S (2012) Trend changes in global greening and browning: contribution of short-term trends to longer-term change. Glob Change Biol 18:642–655. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02578.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. de Jong R, Verbesselt J, Zeileis A, Schaepman ME (2013) Shifts in global vegetation activity trends. Remote Sens 5:1117–1133. doi: 10.3390/rs5031117 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Defries RS, Rudel T, Uriarte M, Hansen M (2010) Deforestation driven by urban population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century. Nat Geosci 3:178–181. doi: 10.1038/ngeo756 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dennison PE, Roberts DA (2003) Endmember selection for multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis using endmember average RMSE. Remote Sens Environ 87:123–135. doi: 10.1016/S0034-4257(03)00135-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Donohue RJ, Roderick ML, McVicar TR, Farquhar GD (2013) Impact of CO2 fertilization on maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments. Geophys Res Lett 40:3031–3035. doi: 10.1002/grl.50563 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Eastman JR, Sangermano F, Ghimire B, Zhu H, Chen H, Neeti N, Cai Y, Machado EA, Crema SC (2009) Seasonal trend analysis of image time series. Int J Remote Sens 30:2721–2726. doi: 10.1080/01431160902755338 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eastman JR, Sangermano F, Machado EA, Rogan J, Anyamba A (2013) Global trends in seasonality of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), 1982–2011. Remote Sens 5:4799–4818. doi: 10.3390/rs5104799 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Eldridge DJ, Bowker MA, Maestre FT, Roger E, Reynolds JF, Whitford WG (2011) Impacts of shrub encroachment on ecosystem structure and functioning: towards a global synthesis. Ecol Lett 14:709–722. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01630.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. El-Sheikh MA (2013) Population structure of woody plants in the arid cloud forests of Dhofar, southern Oman. Acta Bot Croat 72:97–111. doi: 10.2478/v10184-012-0008-6 Google Scholar
  25. Galletti CS. Climate and climate change: Jabal Al-Qara. In: Atlas of Omani mountains (forthcoming) Google Scholar
  26. Galletti CS, Myint SW (2014) Land-use mapping in a mixed urban-agricultural arid landscape using object-based image analysis: a case study from Maricopa, Arizona. Remote Sens 6:6089–6110. doi: 10.3390/rs6076089 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Geist HJ, Lambin EF (2002) Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestation. Bioscience 52:143–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ghazanfar S (1998) Status of the flora and plant conservation in the sultanate of Oman. Biol Conserv 85:1167–1179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Goswami BN, Mohan RSA (2001) Intraseasonal oscillations and interannual variability of the Indian summer monsoon. J Clim 14:1180–1198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gupta AK, Anderson DM, Overpeck JT (2003) Abrupt changes in the Asian southwest monsoon during the Holocene and their links to the North Atlantic Ocean. Nature 421:354–357. doi: 10.1038/nature01340 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Higgins A (2011) With the S.A.S and other animals: a vet’s experiences during the Dhofar War 1974. Pen and Sword Books Ltd, BarnsleyGoogle Scholar
  32. Higuera D, Martín-López B, Sánchez-Jabba A (2013) Social preferences towards ecosystem services provided by cloud forests in the neotropics: implications for conservation strategies. Reg Environ Change 13:861–872. doi: 10.1007/s10113-012-0379-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hildebrandt A (2005) Ecohydrology of a seasonal cloud forest in Dhofar. Ph.D. Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  34. Hildebrandt A, Eltahir EAB (2006) Forest on the edge: seasonal cloud forest in Oman creates its own ecological niche. Geophys Res Lett 33:2–5. doi: 10.1029/2006GL026022 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hildebrandt A, Eltahir EAB (2007) Ecohydrology of a seasonal cloud forest in Dhofar: 2. Role of clouds, soil type, and rooting depth in tree-grass competition. Water Resour. doi: 10.1029/2006WR005262 Google Scholar
  36. Hilker T, Natsagdorj E, Waring RH, Lyapustin A, Wang Y (2014) Satellite observed widespread decline in Mongolian grasslands largely due to overgrazing. Glob Change Biol 20:418–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hughes G (2009) A “Model Campaign” reappraised: the counter-insurgency war in Dhofar, Oman, 1965–1975. J Strateg Stud 32:271–305. doi: 10.1080/01402390902743357 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Janzen J (1986) Nomads in the sultanate of Oman: tradition and development in Dhofar. Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  39. Janzen J (2000) The destruction of resources among the mountain nomads of Dhofar. In: Mundy M, Musallam B (eds) The transformation of nomadic society in the Arab east. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 160–175Google Scholar
  40. Krishnan R, Sabin TP, Ayantika DC, Kitoh A, Sugi M, Murakami H, Turner AG, Slingo JM, Rajendran K (2013) Will the South Asian monsoon overturning circulation stabilize any further? Clim Dyn 40:187–211. doi: 10.1007/s00382-012-1317-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Krishnaswamy J, Vaidyanathan S, Rajagopalan B, Bonell M, Sankaran M, Bhalla RS, Badiger S (2014) Non-stationary and non-linear influence of ENSO and Indian Ocean Dipole on the variability of Indian monsoon rainfall and extreme rain events. Clim Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-014-2288-0 Google Scholar
  42. Kumar KK, Rajagopalan B, Hoerling M, Bates G, Cane M (2006) Unraveling the mystery of Indian monsoon failure during El Niño. Science 314:115–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kumar KK, Kamala K, Rajagopalan B, Hoerling MP, Eischeid JK, Patwardhan SK, Srinivasan G, Goswami BN, Nemani R (2011) The once and future pulse of Indian monsoonal climate. Clim Dyn 36:2159–2170. doi: 10.1007/s00382-010-0974-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kürschner H, Hein P, Kilian N, Hubaishan MA (2004) The Hybantho durae-Anogeissetum dhofaricae ass. nova-phytosociology, structure and ecology of an endemic South Arabian forest community. Phytocoenologia 34:569–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kwarteng AY, Dorvlo S, Kumar GTV (2009) Analysis of a 27-year rainfall data (1977–2003) in the Sultanate of Oman. Int J Climatol 617:605–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lambin EF, Turner BL, Geist HJ, Agbola SB, Angelsen A, Bruce J, Coomes O, Dirzo R, Fischer G, Folke C (2001) The causes of land-use and land-cover change: moving beyond the myths. Glob Environ Change 11:261–269. doi: 10.1016/S0959-3780(01)00007-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lambin EF, Geist HJ, Lepers E (2003) Dynamics of land-use and land-cover change in tropical regions. Annu Rev Environ Resour 28:205–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lefebvre JA (2010) Oman’s foreign policy in the twenty-first century. Middle East Policy 17:99–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Li S, Verburg PH, Shihai L, Wu J, Li X (2012) Spatial analysis of the driving factors of grassland degradation under conditions of climate change and intensive use in Inner Mongolia, China. Reg Environ Change 12:461–474. doi: 10.1007/s10113-011-0264-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Liu J, Hull V, Batistella M, DeFries R, Dietz T, Fu F, Hertel TW, Izaurralde RC, Lambin EF, Li S, Martinelli LA, McConnell WJ, Moran EF, Naylor R, Ouyang Z, Polenske KR, Reenberg A, de Miranda Rocha G, Simmons CS, Verburg PH, Vitousek PM, Zhang F, Zhu C (2013) Framing sustainability in a telecoupled world. Ecol Soc 18:26. doi: 10.5751/ES-05873-180226 Google Scholar
  51. Masek JG, Vermote EF, Saleous NE, Wolfe R, Hall FG, Huemmrich KF, Gao F, Kutler J, Lim T (2006) A landsat surface reflectance dataset for North America, 1990–2000. IEEE Geosci Remote Sens Lett 3:68–72. doi: 10.1109/LGRS.2005.857030 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Miller AG, Morris M (1988) Plants of Dhofar, the southern region of Oman, traditional, economic and medicinal uses. Office of the Adviser for Conservation of the Environment, Diwan of Royal Court, Sultanate of OmanGoogle Scholar
  53. O’Reilly MJ (1998) Omanibalancing: Oman confronts an uncertain future. Middle East J 52:70–84Google Scholar
  54. OEC (2015) Observatory of economic complexity. Accessed 1 May 2015
  55. Patzelt A (2011) The Themeda quadrivalvis tall-grass savannah of oman at the crossroad between Africa and Asia. Edinb J Bot 68:301–319. doi: 10.1017/S0960428611000217 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Peterson JE (2004a) Oman: three and a half decades of change and development. Middle East Policy 9:125–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Peterson JE (2004b) Oman’s diverse society: Southern Oman. Middle East J 58:31–51Google Scholar
  58. Peterson JE (2011) Oman faces the twenty-first century. In: Tétreault MA, Okruhlik G, Kapiszewski A (eds) Political change in the Arab Gulf states: stuck in transition. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, pp 99–118Google Scholar
  59. Pickering HA, Patzelt A (2008) Field guide to the wild plants of Oman. Kew Publishing, RichmondGoogle Scholar
  60. Pontius RG, Shusas E, McEachern M (2004) Detecting important categorical land changes while accounting for persistence. Agric Ecosyst Environ 101:251–268. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2003.09.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Powell RL, Roberts DA (2010) Characterizing urban land-cover change in Rondônia, Brazil: 1985 to 2000Google Scholar
  62. Reynolds JF, Smith DMS, Lambin EF, Turner BL, Mortimore M, Batterbury SPJ, Downing TE, Dowlatabadi H, Fernández RJ, Herrick JE, Huber-Sannwald E, Jiang H, Leemans R, Lynam T, Maestre FT, Ayarza M, Walker B (2007) Global desertification: building a science for dryland development. Science 316:847–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Roberts D, Gardner M, Church R, Ustin S, Scheer G, Green R (1998) Mapping chaparral in the Santa Monica Mountains using multiple endmember spectral mixture models. Remote Sens Environ 65:267–279. doi: 10.1016/S0034-4257(98)00037-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Scholte P, De Geest P (2010) The climate of Socotra Island (Yemen): a first-time assessment of the timing of the monsoon wind reversal and its influence on precipitation and vegetation patterns. J Arid Environ 74:1507–1515. doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2010.05.017 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sen PK (1968) Estimates of the regression coefficient based on Kendall’s tau. J Am Stat Assoc 63:1379–1389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Serneels S, Lambin EF (2001) Proximate causes of land-use change in Narok District, Kenya: a spatial statistical model. Agric Ecosyst Environ 85:65–81. doi: 10.1016/S0167-8809(01)00188-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Seto KC, Reenberg A (2014) Rethinking global land use in an urban era. MIT Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Settle JJ, Drake NA (1993) Linear mixing and the estimation of ground cover proportions. Int J Remote Sens 14:1159–1177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Theil H (1950) A rank-invariant method of linear and polynomial regression analysis, I, II, III. Proc K Ned Acad van Wet 53:386–392, 512–525, 1397–1412Google Scholar
  70. Turner BL II, Lambin EF, Reenberg A (2007) Land change science special feature: the emergence of land change science for global environmental change and sustainability. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:20666–20671. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0704119104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. UNEP (1994) United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in AfricaGoogle Scholar
  72. USGS (2015) Product guide: Landsat 4-7 climate data record (CDR) surface reflectance v. 5.8Google Scholar
  73. Vayda AP, Walters BB (1999) Against political ecology. Hum Ecol 27:167–179. doi: 10.1023/A:1018713502547 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher S. Galletti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Billie L. TurnerII
    • 2
    • 3
  • Soe W. Myint
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.School of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations