Centennial-Scale Land-Cover Change on Babeldaob Island, Palau

Julian Dendy, Paul Collins, Dino Mesubed, Susan Cordell, Christian P. Giardina, Amanda Uowolo, Akiko Iida
2022 Land  
We used publicly available land-cover datasets (1921, 1947, 1976, 1992, 2001, 2006, 2014) to assess land-cover change on Babeldaob Island, Republic of Palau. Land-cover data were organized, classified, and summarized by area and percentage of island cover for forest, mangrove, non-forest vegetation, and non-vegetation. Japanese colonial administration of the island between 1921 and 1947 included industrial mining and agriculture, which reduced total non-mangrove forest cover by 16%. Temporal
more » ... etation cover dynamics from 1947 through 2014 indicate unassisted forest regeneration of 12% with a concomitant decrease in non-forest vegetation including abandoned agriculture, the majority of which happened by 1976. Mangrove cover appears to have remained stable throughout the 93 year study period. Ground-truth observations showed the highest rates of vegetation cover change since 1976 for non-vegetated areas, followed by marsh and swamp forest. The proportion of non-vegetated cover increased at least twofold after WWII, with at least half comprising roads. Contrary to other tropical geographies, we saw forest expansion following completion of a major perimeter road. However, the larger landscape is permeated by dynamic forest edges subject to wildfire and other land-use disturbances.
doi:10.3390/land11060830 fatcat:b7fhodtdwfeabnhsnklwr3b5n4