Abstract

Describing the nature and extent of land resources and changes over time has become increasingly important, especially in rapidly growing metropolitan areas. In this study, two Landsat satellite image scenes were examined to identify land use and land cover changes for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin between 1982 and 2005. Classification accuracies were based upon ground truth data obtained by global positioning system field collection and photo interpretations. A postclassification change detection analysis was used to identify areas that have experienced conversions in land use or land cover. Comparisons of the land cover maps reveal that a steady growth in population and an increase in commercial and residential development have caused extensive changes to critical habitats throughout the basin. The maps also indicate that the loss of coastal wetlands, combined with shoreline erosion, remains one of the most serious environmental problems facing the Pontchartrain Basin today. The postclassification change detection analysis showed that critical habitats accounted for nearly 40% of the total urban growth between 1982 and 2005. Results also showed that for the time period studied, approximately 25 square miles (15,994 acres) of marsh was converted to open water. This is an overall average decrease of approximately 640 acres per year.

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