Differentiating geological fertility derived vegetation zones in Kruger National Park, South Africa, using Landsat and MODIS imagery

Munyati, Christopher
Ratshibvumo, Thihanedzwi
Journal for Nature Conservation
Publication Year: 
Spatial technologies present possibilities for producing frequently updated and accurate habitat maps, which are important in biodiversity conservation. Assemblages of vegetation are equivalent to habitats. This study examined the use of satellite imagery in vegetation differentiation in South Africa's Kruger National Park (KNP). A vegetation classification scheme based on dominant tree species but also related to the park s geology was tested, the geology generally consisting of high and low fertility lithology. Currently available multispectral satellite imagery is broadly either of high spatial but low temporal resolution or low spatial but high temporal resolution. Landsat TM/ETM+ and MODIS images were used to represent these broad categories. Rain season dates were selected as the period when discrimination between key habitats in KNP is most likely to be successful. Principal Component Analysis enhanced vegetated areas on the Landsat images, while NDVI vegetation enhancement was employed on the MODIS image. The images were classified into six field sampling derived classes depicting a vegetation density and phenology gradient, with high (about 89%) indicative classification accuracy. The results indicate that, using image processing procedures that enhance vegetation density, image classification can be used to map the park s vegetation at the high versus low geological fertility zone level, to accuracies above 80% on high spatial resolution imagery and slightly lower accuracy on lower spatial resolution imagery. Rainfall just prior to the image date influences herbaceous vegetation and, therefore, success at image scene vegetation mapping, while cloud cover limits image availability. Small scale habitat differentiation using multispectral satellite imagery for large protected savanna areas appears feasible, indicating the potential for use of remote sensing in savanna habitat monitoring. However, factors affecting successful habitat mapping need to be considered. Therefore, adoption of remote sensing in vegetation mapping and monitoring for large protected savanna areas merits consideration by conservation agencies.
Name of Journal: 
Journal for Nature Conservation
Resource Type: 
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.