عنوان مقاله [English]
Large scale land use/cover changes and habitat fragmentation is a major factor in the distribution and functioning of ecosystems. For analysis the relationship between land use changes and their impacts on biodiversity, land cover and land use information is needed at different scales. The main goal of this study was to quantify the land use/ cover changes in Arasbaran Biosphere Reserve, Northwest of Iran in a period of 24 years (1987–2011). Arasbaran is one of the most important protected areas in Iran. We used Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite image from 1987, 2011, and ETM+ from 2001 for providing the land use /cover maps. Eight classes of land use/cover including irrigated agricultural land, non-irrigated agricultural land, dense forest, sparse forest, range lands (dominated by Astragalus), other grassland types, bare land and waters were identiﬁed. The results indicated that during the last 24 years (1987-2011), the proportion of forest was significantly decreased (12.3%), while grassland (5.4%), rangeland (3.7%), and bare land (4.9%) were increased in the study period. Altitude and residential land, were identified as the main driving forces of land use changes in the study area, as between 1987-2011, the area of dense forests was decreased by 96% in the low altitudinal class of the study area (260-700 m a.s.l). The results of this study provided quantitative data on significant current land use/cover trends and habitat loss in Arasbaran Biosphere reserve that could be useful in establishing and implementing effective management at landscape scale that maintain ecological function while minimizing restrictions on human land use.