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Volume XV |

The Assessment of Artificial Water Surfaces Regeneration in Stachinez Swamps Protected Area by Using Remote Sensing and In–situ Data

Abstract: The Satchinez Swamps, a remnant of the swamps once specific for Banat Plain, is an ornithological reserve since 1942 and the habitat of many protected bird species. Draining works conducted in the seventies affected the reserve by decreasing the water surface area. Thirty-five years later, hydro-technical works aiming to restore the former aquatic surfaces within the buffer zone were conducted. Thus, in 2005 a water delivery canal from the discharge canal of Satchinez reservoir towards Balta Mare was built. The objective of this study is to assess the efficiency of the hydrological works carried out in 2005 by using temporal analysis of some normalized difference indexes derived from satellite images, in relation to precipitation data (recorded at Timisoara meteorological station) as an indicator for wetland restoration. We used geospatial data from different time periods: historical maps (1953, 1962 and 1984), orthophotos (1963, 1970, 2005 and 2012), oblique airphotos (2004) and 38 Landsat satellite scenes (1984-2015), two images per year, for the dry season respectively for the rainy season. We noticed a slight increase of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in Balta Mare and on the relict watercourse of Sicsău stream, which shows the expansion of reed and suggests an increase in soil moisture. During the dry season, for the period before the restoration works (1984 – 2004) there is a strong, very significant correlation between Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) and precipitations (r =0.7008, p = 0.0011). After 2005, this correlation no longer occurs (r = -0.1083, p <0.05), which demonstrates that precipitations are not the main water supply for Balta Mare anymore. For the 1984 – 2015 period, during rainy months the Modified Normalized Difference Water Index (MNDWI) indicate the presence of water in Balta Mare, but during the dry months, it demonstrates the lack of water which underlines the temporary character of this pond and confirms the field observations. We conclude that the restoration did not succeed in the rebuilding of the former water surfaces of Balta Mare, but has an effect in increasing the underground water level in this area followed by reed extension.