Munawar, S; Udelhoven, T (2020). Land change syndromes identification in temperate forests of Hindukush Himalaya Karakorum (HHK) mountain ranges. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING, 41(20), 7735-7756.

In this study, we analyzed time series of a vegetation index to identify land-cover/land-use changes in HHK mountain regions administered by Pakistan. Monthly MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) EVI (Enhanced Vegetation Index) series were decomposed to retrieve changes in long-term mean, peaking magnitude and seasonal characteristics. Resulting linear trend patterns were used as a baseline to map syndromes over the study area. To address non-linear changes, inter-annual variation (IAV) and short-term variation (STV) was also computed. Distributed lag-models (DLM) were used to determine significant correlation between GIMMS (Global Inventory Monitoring and Mapping) NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and rainfall as an additional syndrome to highlight climate sensitive regions. Our results indicate that land use is mainly controlled by two factors: elevation and river network. Based on that, there is a particular spatial distribution of agricultural intensification because of deforestation, forest degradation from unsustainable use, forest regeneration and human settlements near rivers. Most of the trends observed showed a persistent greening pattern compared to small groups of pixels with negative trends. Outcomes of DLM do not provide plausible links between rain and forest biomass. It does however suggest a positive response of crops to rainfall events in the arid zones of the study area. High short-term fluctuation in EVI residuals occurred in areas that experienced considerable land modification and where land-use patterns are not stable. IAV was high in regions around rivers and water works and its impact on forest dynamics could not be substantiated. Land change patterns described here can be used by decision makers for forest restoration programmes.