Derivation of ecological indicators for assessing landscape health and habitat disturbance in Lower Barpani watershed of Assam (India)
Abstract: Landscape health is a primary concern for management of resources and restoration of habitats of various fauna and avifauna in watershed. We derived landscape health index using Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite data of 1987 and 2011. Standard precipitation index, normalized difference water index, normalized difference moisture index, normalized difference barren land index, normalized difference vegetation index, human disturbance, height, slope, land use/ land cover were integrated to assess landscape health and habitat disturbance in Lower Barpani watershed in India. Landscape health was categorized into five groups, i.e. very good, good, moderate, poor and very poor. Spatial-temporal variation of landscape health revealed that the area under very good health has degraded from 45% in 1987 to only 1% registering a decrease of 97.26%. The area under good, moderate, poor and very poor categories of landscape health experienced positive change. Habitat disturbance in forests and wetlands has also increased due to shifting agriculture, deforestation and cultivation in wetlands. Remotely sensed indices of landscape health and habitat disturbance can effectively be utilized for prioritizing ecological restoration across space at various scales.