Bellon, B; Blanco, J; De Vos, A; Roque, FD; Pays, O; Renaud, PC (2020). Integrated Landscape Change Analysis of Protected Areas and their Surrounding Landscapes: Application in the Brazilian Cerrado. REMOTE SENSING, 12(9), 1413.

Remote sensing tools have been long used to monitor landscape dynamics inside and around protected areas. Hereto, scientists have largely relied on land use and land cover (LULC) data to derive indicators for monitoring these dynamics, but these metrics do not capture changes in the state of vegetation surfaces that may compromise the ecological integrity of conservation areas' landscapes. Here, we introduce a methodology that combines LULC change estimates with three Normalized Difference Vegetation Index-based proxy indicators of vegetation productivity, phenology, and structural change. We illustrate the utility of this methodology through a regional and local analysis of the landscape dynamics in the Cerrado Biome in Brazil in 2001 and 2016. Despite relatively little natural vegetation loss inside core protected areas and their legal buffer zones, the different indicators revealed significant LULC conversions from natural vegetation to farming land, general productivity loss, homogenization of natural forests, significant agricultural expansion, and a general increase in productivity. These results suggest an overall degradation of habitats and intensification of land use in the studied conservation area network, highlighting serious conservation inefficiencies in this region and stressing the importance of integrated landscape change analyses to provide complementary indicators of ecologically-relevant dynamics in these key conservation areas.