, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 807–818 | Cite as

Remote Sensing Change Detection and Process Analysis of Long-Term Land Use Change and Human Impacts

  • Qiming Zhou
  • Baolin Li
  • Yumin Chen


This study investigates environmental change over a 30-year period and attempts to gain a better understanding of human impacts on an arid environment and their consequences for regional development. Multi-temporal remotely sensed imagery was acquired and integrated to establish the basis for change detection and process analysis. Land cover changes were investigated in two categories, namely categorical change using image classification and quantitative change using a vegetation index. The results show that human-induced land cover changes have been minor in this remote area. However, the pace of growth of human-induced change has been accelerating since the early 1990s. The analysis of the multi-temporal vegetation index also shows no overall trend of rangeland deterioration, although local change of vegetation cover caused by human activities was noticeable. The results suggest that the current trend of rapid growth may not be sustainable and that the implementation of effective counter-measures for environmentally sound development is a rather urgent matter.


Remote sensing Land use change Change detection Human impact assessment Arid zone 



The research is supported by a National Key Basic Research and Development Program Grant (2006CB701305), a Hong Kong Research Grants Council General Research Fund Grant (HKBU 202907), and a Hong Kong Baptist University Faculty Research Grant (FRG/06-07/II-76). The authors would also like to thank Prof. Bernie Owen of Hong Kong Baptist University for editing and improving the text of the manuscript. The constructive comments and suggestions from anonymous reviewers are also highly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Centre for Geo-computation StudiesHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Environment and Resources Information System, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.School of Resource and Environment ScienceWuhan UniversityHubeiPeople’s Republic of China

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