Assessment of land-cover/land-use change and landscape patterns in the two national nature reserves of Ebinur Lake Watershed, Xinjiang, China


Land-cover and land-use change (LCLUC) alters landscape patterns and affects regional ecosystems. The objective of this study was to examine LCLUC and landscape patterns in Ebinur LakeWetland National Nature Reserve (ELWNNR) and Ganjia Lake Haloxylon Forest National Nature Reserve (GLHFNNR), two biodiversity-rich national nature reserves in the Ebinur LakeWatershed (ELW), Xinjiang, China. Landsat satellite images from 1972, 1998, 2007 and 2013 were used to calculate the dynamics of a land-cover and land-use (LCLU) transition matrix and landscape pattern index using ENVI 5.1 and FRAGSTATS 3.3. The results showed drastic land use modifications have occurred in ELWNNR during the past four decades. Between 1972 and 1998, 1998 and 2007, and 2007 and 2013, approximately 251.50 km2 (7.93%), 122.70 km2 (3.87%), and 195.40 km2 (6.16%) of wetland were turned into salinized land. In GLHFNNR both low and medium density Haloxylon forest area declined while high density Haloxylon forest area increased. This contribution presents a method for characterizing LCLUC using one or more cross-tabulation matrices based on Sankey diagrams, demonstrating the depiction of flows of energy or materials through ecosystem network. The ecological landscape index displayed that a unique landscape patches have shrunk in size, scattered, and fragmented. It becomes a more diverse landscape. Human activities like farming were negatively correlated with the landscape diversity of wetlands. Furthermore, evidence of degraded wetlands caused by air temperature and annual precipitation, was also observed. We conclude that national and regional policies related to agriculture and water use have significantly contributed to the extensive changes; the ELWNNR and GLHFNNR are highly susceptible to LCLUC in the surrounding Ebinur Lake Watershed.

Publication Title

Sustainability (Switzerland)