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Land use and land cover dynamics in the Upper Ganga Riverine Wetland: unraveling ecosystem services over two decades

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Abstract

Anthropogenic activities have drastically transformed natural landscapes, profoundly impacting land use and land cover (LULC) and, consequently, the provision and functionality of ecosystem service values (ESVs). Evaluating the changes in LULC and their influence on ESVs is imperative to protect ecologically fragile ecosystems from degradation. This study focuses on a highly sensitive Upper Ganga riverine wetland in India, covering Hapur, Amroha, Bulandshahr, and Sambhal districts, which is well-known for its significant endemic flora and fauna. The study analyzes the subtle variability in ecosystem services offered by the various LULC biomes, including riverine wetland, built-up, cropland, forest, sandbar, and unused land. LULC classification is carried out using Landsat satellite imagery 5 and 8 for the years 2000, 2010, and 2020, using the random forest method. The spatiotemporal changing pattern of ESVs is assessed utilizing the value transfer method with two distinct value coefficients: global value coefficients (C14) for a worldwide perspective and modified local value coefficients X08 for a more specific local context. The results show a significant increase in built-up and unused land, with a corresponding decrease in wetlands and forests from 2000 to 2020. The combined ESVs for all the districts are worth US $5072 million (C14) and US $2139 million (X08) in the year 2000, which declined to US $4510 million (C14) and US $1770 million (X08) in the year 2020. The sensitivity analysis reveals that the coefficient of sensitivity (CS) is below one for all biomes, suggesting the robustness of the employed value coefficients in estimating ESVs. Moreover, the analysis identifies cropland, followed by forests and wetlands, as the LULC biomes most responsive to changes. This research provides crucial insights to stakeholders and policymakers for developing sustainable land management practices aimed at enhancing the ecological worth of the Upper Ganga Riverine Wetland.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, for providing the necessary infrastructure and assistance to complete this research. First author would like to thank the University Grant Commission (UGC) for providing a continuous research fellowship (UGC-JRF) to carry out the research at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee. The authors acknowledge the efforts of scientists associated with Google Earth Engine and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) for providing topographic data and high-resolution base layers.

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Alka Yadav: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing, Visualization.

Mitthan Lal Kansal: Supervision, Methodology, Conceptualization, Writing – review & editing.

Aparajita Singh: Supervision, Methodology, Conceptualization, Writing – review & editing.

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Correspondence to Mitthan Lal Kansal.

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Yadav, A., Kansal, M.L. & Singh, A. Land use and land cover dynamics in the Upper Ganga Riverine Wetland: unraveling ecosystem services over two decades. Environ Monit Assess 196, 590 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-024-12748-2

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