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Article: Land-cover change within and around protected areas in a biodiversity hotspot

AbstractThe landscape surrounding protected areas influences their ability to maintain ecosystem functions and achieve conservation goals. As anthropogenic intensification continues, it is important to monitor land-use and land-cover change in and around protected areas. We measure land-cover change surrounding protected areas in the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity hotspot from the 1980s to present. Using Landsat imagery, we classified land cover within and around each protected area. Agricultural land uses were increasing and often directly border protected area boundaries. Human settlements increased around every protected area, potentially increasing human activity along the edges of protected areas and threatening their ecological integrity. Urban expansion around protected areas varied but increased as much as 10%. Woody vegetation cover varied both within and around protected areas with possible evidence of deforestation and shrub encroachment throughout the hotspot. We recommend monitoring land cover across southeastern Africa to better understand regional trends in land-use impacts to protected areas.

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