Assessment of Small-Scale Ecosystem Conservation in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: A Study from Rio Canoas State Park, Southern Brazil
The efficiency of the environmental management of a territory largely depends on previous surveys and systematic studies on the main elements and conditions of the physical environment. We applied remote sensing and digital image processing techniques (Principal Component Analysis and supervised classification) to Landsat imagery for analyzing the spatiotemporal land cover changes occurred in the Rio Canoas State Park in Brazil and its surrounding area from 1990 to 2016. Reforested areas around
... rested areas around the park with exotic species is a part of the region's economy and a number of industries depend on it for raw materials. However, it is a matter of concern to avoid contamination with such invasive species, due to the proximity of the Park. From 1990 to 2004, more than 95% of the study area was unchanged and showed minimal distinction in land cover over the 14 years. This was mainly due to the continuous presence of agricultural monocultures around the Park without significant increases (only 3.1% of land cover change during this period). Regarding the interior of the Rio Canoas State Park, from 1990 to 2004, there was no increase in the area of exposed soil. The analysis of the surrounding areas of the park from 2004 to 2016 showed that 5663.78 ha (12.2% of the area) of the land cover has been changed, in most areas, due to reforestation by Pinus sp. Notable changes occurred within the park (established in 2004) between 2004 and 2016—there was a partial regeneration of natural species diversity, a small number of invasive species (Pinus sp.) and removal of agricultural activities within the park, which contributed a 6.6% (75.45 ha) change in its land cover. We verified that 92.51% (1048.40 ha) of the areas inside the park were unchanged. The results demonstrated that actions were conducted to preserve the natural vegetation cover within the park and to reduce the impacts of anthropogenic activities, including the invasion of exotic species from the surrounding reforested areas into the natural habitat of the park. Given this, our study can aid the environmental management of the Park and its surrounding areas, enabling the monitoring of environmental legislation, the creation of a management plan, and can guide new action plans for the present study area and can be applied to other similar regions.