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A Case Study of Forest and Woodland Habitat Loss to Disturbance and Development...

Potter, C. (2015), A Case Study of Forest and Woodland Habitat Loss to Disturbance and Development in an Ex-Urban Landscape: Santa Clara County, California 1999-2009. Current Urban Studies, 3, 18, doi:10.4236/cus.2015.31003.

Analysis of Landsat satellite images was applied to detect changes in forest and woodland vegetation cover in Santa Clara County, California. Results showed that 92 km2 (22,730 acres) of forests and woodlands were highly disturbed in SCC between 1999 and 2009, 37% (34 km2) of which did not overlap with any known wildland fire boundaries, and hence, were confirmed to be lost to new residential or commercial development activities. Disturbed wooded area represented about 6% of the total 1575 km2 area of all remaining forest and woodlands in SCC prior to 1999. If the majority of disturbed forest and woodland area in SCC is not allowed to regenerate naturally and remain undeveloped, then the annual rate of disturbance would be equal to annual forest loss rates of countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and Madagascar since the year 2000. Based on this assessment, the Landsat analysis methodology would be capable of fulfilling a pressing need for consistent, continual, low-cost monitoring of changes in forest habitats and associated wildlife corridors throughout California.

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