The study employs a Fourier transform analysis approach to assess the land-cover changes in a mountainous Mediterranean protected area using multi-temporal satellite images. Harmonic analysis was applied to a time series of Landsat satellite images acquired from 1984 to 2008 to extract information about land cover status with a vegetation spectral index, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Ancillary cartographic information depicting land cover classes and the enlargement of the protected area over time (i.e., maps showing the original delineation in 1995 and subsequent enlargement in 2007) were employed as additional factors to understand vegetation-cover changes. Significant differences in the NDVI and harmonic components values were observed with respect to both factors. The application of the Fourier transform was particularly successful to extract subtle information. The harmonic analysis of the NDVI time series revealed valuable information about the evolution of the landscape. The initially protected area (northern sector) seems more affected by human activities than the southern sector (enlarged area in 2007) as revealed by the analysis of the first harmonic component that was closely related with vegetation coverage. Rural abandonment is a major driver of land-cover changes in the study area.
Part of the book: Landscape Ecology