Spatiotemporal Pattern of Urban Forest Leaf Area Index in Response to Rapid Urbanization and Urban Greening

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Spatiotemporal analysis, LAI, Landsat TM imagery, NDVI

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Rapid urbanization and urban greening have caused great changes to urban forests in China. Understanding spatiotemporal patterns of urban forest leaf area index (LAI) under rapid urbanization and urban greening is important for urban forest planning and management. We evaluated the potential for estimating urban forest LAI spatiotemporally by using Landsat TM imagery. We collected three scenes of Landsat TM (thematic mapper) images acquired in 1997, 2004 and 2010 and conducted a field survey to collect urban forest LAI. Finally, spatiotemporal maps of the urban forest LAI were created using a NDVI-based urban forest LAI predictive model. Our results show that normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI) could be used as a predictor for urban forest LAI similar to natural forests. Both rapid urbanization and urban greening contribute to the changing process of urban forest LAI. The urban forest has changed considerably from 1997 to 2010. Urban vegetated pixels decreased gradually from 1997 to 2010 due to intensive urbanization. Leaf area for the study area was 216.4, 145.2 and 173.7 km2 in the years 1997, 2004 and 2010, respectively. Urban forest LAI decreased sharply from 1997 to 2004 and increased slightly from 2004 to 2010 because of numerous greening policies. The urban forest LAI class distributions were skewed toward low values in 1997 and 2004. Moreover, the LAI presented a decreasing trend from suburban to downtown areas. We demonstrate the usefulness of TM remote-sensing in understanding spatiotemporal changing patterns of urban forest LAI under rapid urbanization and urban greening.

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Journal of Forestry Research, v. 29, issue 3, p. 785-796