Monitoring land use and land cover change in Chhota Rangit river basin of Darjeeling Himalaya, India, using remote sensing and GIS techniques

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Kabita Lepch, Sujit Mandal, Swades Pal


Drastic Land use and land cover change is one of the prominent causes for different environmental problems in the recent times. Thus mapping and monitoring of land use and land cover change is very essential for sustainable utilization of land resources and also for controlling and mitigating the problems. With the application of remote sensing and GIS an attempt has been made in this paper to analyze the pattern of land use and land cover changes in Chhota Rangit river basin in Darjeeling Himalaya, India during the period 1991 to 2001.  Different satellite images like Landsat-5(Thematic Mapper), Landsat-7 (ETM), Landsat-8 (OLI), were used to prepare the land use maps of the river basin using maximum likelihood supervised classification technique in remote sensing GIS software. The accuracy of the classified images was done using different accuracy assessment methods. The river basin is classified with seven land use classes such as Water bodies, Settlement, Forest, Social forestry, Agriculture (Single crop), Agriculture plantation (Tea) and Agriculture fallow. The result of the analysis shows that the river basin over the period of time has experienced the drastic changes in its land use and land cover. The forest cover in the river basin has gradually decreased from 23.96% in 1991 to 14.25%in 2017. Water body also decreased from 4.68% in 1991 to 3.33% in 2017. Agricultural land also decreased from 25.21% in 1991 to 18.42% in 2017. A large portion of the river basin is converted into tea plantation area due to which plantation is counted as a major land use class in the river basin. However the built up area increased from 4.41% in 1991 to 6.22% in 2017.Even the area under the social forestry and fallow land in the river basin has significantly increased over the period of time. The findings of this study throw an insight in understanding and initiating the appropriate steps in future development and utilization of the land resources in the Chhota Rangit river basin.

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