The South African land cover change detection derived from 2013_2014 and 2017_2018 land cover products

Luncedo Dalithemba Ngcofe, Rory Hickson, Pradeep Singh


The appetite for up-to-date information about the earth’s surface is ever increasing, as such information provides a basis for a large number of applications. These include the earth’s resource detection and evaluation, land cover and land use change monitoring together with other vast environmental studies such as climate change assessment. Due to the advantages of repetitive data acquisition, the synoptic view, together with the varied spatial resolution it provides, and its available historically achieved dataset, remote sensing earth observation has become the major preferred data source for various earth studies. This study assesses land cover change detection of the land cover products (2013_2014 and 2017_2018) derived from earth observation.

There are vast number of change detection methodologies and techniques with some still emerging. This study embarked on post classification change detection methodology which entailed morphological and spectral filtering techniques.  The 10 land cover classes that were assessed for change detection are: natural wooded land, shrubland, grassland, waterbodies, wetlands, barren lands, cultivated, built-up, planted forest together with mines and quarries. The change detection accuracy result was 74.97%. Through the likelihood analysis, the likelihood for change to occur (e.g. cultivated to grassland) and unlikelihood of change to occur (e.g. built-up to planted forest), resulted in 72.2% areas of potential realistic change.

The change detection results, further depend on the quality, compatibility and accuracy of the input land cover datasets. The application of different ancillary data together with different modelling techniques for land cover classification also affect the true reflectance of land cover change detection. Therefore extra caution should be exercised when analysing change detection so as to provide true and reliable changes.


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