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Human impacts on landscape in protected areas: A case study of the Wolong Natural Reserve.
Zeng, Hui*,1, Sui, Daniel, Wu, Ben, 1 Dept. of Urban and Environmental Science, Beijing, P.R. China
ABSTRACT- Human-induced ecological degradation in protected areas is of great concern in landscape ecological studies. Using Landsat TM data and a GIS-based spatial analysis approach, we assessed the human impacts on landscape structure in Wolong Nature Reserve. Buffer zone analysis and total variation index of neighboring buffer zones were used to examine the scope of three human disturbances: hydropower stations, residential areas, and roads. The 200m buffer zone is the area where human activities have inflicted the most visible changes, with a decrease of forest cover by 15-40% and an increase of shrub and barren land area by 15-50%. The impacts of residential areas and hydropower station exhibited clear distance-decay effects. Vertically, the area of human impacts is distributed mainly at altitudes from 2200 to 4000m with slopes between 20 to 40 degrees. The most intensive human impacts concentrate at around 3000m with slopes of more than 25 degrees. Aspects turn out to be an insignificant factor. Our case study of Wolong exposes hurdles that habitat preservation must cross in protected areas. Future management of Wolong Nature Reserve should focus on adoption of effective measures to promote ecological conservation and restoration in areas surrounding hydropower stations, roads, and residential areas.
KEY WORDS: human impact, landscape structure, variation index, Wolong Natural Reserve