Regional Land Cover Monitoring System for the Hindu Kush Himalaya

The system produces consistent annual land cover data using a robust method and a harmonized classification scheme to enable monitoring and change analysis for the entire HKH region.

EXPLORE APPLICATION

The Regional Land Cover Monitoring System (RLCMS) for the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region is an operational service that provides annual land cover mapping and change analysis services. The system produces consistent annual land cover data using a robust method and a harmonized classification scheme to enable monitoring and change analysis.

Land cover across the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region is changing at an accelerated rate due to rapid economic growth and population pressure. These changes impact the long-term sustainability of ecosystems and their services, including food, water, and energy. Land cover mapping is the most common application of Earth observation (EO) science and provides critical information for understanding historical changes in landscapes. Additionally, assessment of land cover dynamics is essential for the sustainable management of natural resources, environmental protection, and food security, and is required for specific national and international reporting such as greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and environmental-economic accounting.

Recognizing the data gaps in land cover and inconsistencies in land cover mapping practices prevalent in the HKH countries, we initiated the development of regional and national land cover maps using a harmonized classification schema by adopting FAO’s land cover classification system. Thereafter, we collaborated with SERVIR-Mekong at Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Bangladesh’s Forest Department, Nepal’s Forest Research and Training Centre, Myanmar’s Forest Department, SilvaCarbon, the Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) laboratory at the University of Maryland, and the United States Forest Services to develop the RLCMS for the HKH region. The system uses state-of-the-art remote sensing science and technology on the Google Earth Engine, and a standard set of input data sources to regularly generate high-quality land cover data at the regional level for the HKH, and at national levels for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal.
The RLCMS generates spatially seamless and temporally consistent annual land cover maps of the whole HKH region using broad land use categories recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which are suitable for regional-level change monitoring of carbon stock and GHG emissions.

EXPLORE APPLICATION

Data visualization

The web-based application provides easy access to the harmonized land cover database for the entire HKH region from 2000–2018. It provides user-friendly tools to generate maps, charts and statistics that help understand change processes better and aid informed decision-making.

Users can generate land cover maps and associated charts of the entire HKH region or input different parameters to generate annual land cover maps for pre-defined regions such as biodiversity hotspots and ecoregions. Alternatively, users can also draw a polygon to define an area of interest.

The system also allows users to generate trends in land cover changes for a defined area of interest.