Object-based identification of vegetation cover decline in irrigated agro-ecosystems in Uzbekistan

Olena Dubovyk, Gunter Menz, Christopher Conrad, Frank Thonfeld, Asia Khamzina

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24 Citations (Scopus)


The sustainability of irrigated croplands in Central Asia is threatened by degradation of their productive function. To quantify the extent of the cropland degradation, this paper combines object-based change detection and spectral mixture analysis for vegetation cover decline mapping in irrigated agro-ecosystems in Uzbekistan based on multitemporal Landsat TM images from 1998 to 2009. The results of the change detection reveal that the cadastral field parcels, characterized by vegetation cover decrease, occupied 18% (52,938ha) of the cropland area. Spatial distribution of fields with decreased vegetation cover was mainly associated with abandoned cropland and land with inherently low-fertility soils located on the outreaches of the irrigation system and bordering natural sandy deserts. The comparison with the land degradation map based on trend analyses of 250m MODIS NDVI time series 2000-2010 yielded an overall agreement of 93%. The proposed approach is a useful supplement to the commonly applied trend analysis for detecting land degradation in cases when plot-specific data are needed but satellite time series of high spatial resolution are not available. The derived parcel-specific, spatial information supports better informed decisions on cropland rehabilitation measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Oct 17
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Robert Bosch Foundation for enabling this study within the framework of the project ‘Opportunities for climate change mitigation through afforestation of degraded lands in Central Asia’. We are grateful to Dr. Guido Lüchters for his advice on the statistical simulation. We are, furthermore, grateful to Mrs Margaret Jend for the help with preparation of the manuscript.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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