Indexed on: 15 Apr '06Published on: 15 Apr '06Published in: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Urbanization can exert a profound influence on land covers and landscape characteristics. In this study, we characterize the impact of urbanization on land cover and lacustrine landscape and their consequences in a large urban lake watershed, Donghu Lake watershed (the largest urban lake in China), Central China, by using Landsat TM satellite images of three periods of 1987, 1993 and 1999 and ground-based information. We grouped the land covers into six categories: water body, vegetable land, forested land, shrub-grass land, open area and urban land, and calculated patch-related landscape indices to analyze the effects of urbanization on landscape features. We overlaid the land cover maps of the three periods to track the land cover change processes. The results indicated that urban land continuously expanded from 9.1% of the total watershed area in 1987, to 19.4% in 1993, and to 29.6% in 1999. The vegetable land increased from 7.0% in 1987, 11.9% in 1993, to 13.9% in 1999 to sustain the demands of vegetable for increased urban population. Concurrently, continuous reduction of other land cover types occurred between 1987 and 1999: water body decreased from 30.4% to 23.8%, and forested land from 33.6% to 24.3%. We found that the expansion of urban land has at least in part caused a decrease in relatively wild habitats, such as urban forest and lake water area. These alterations had resulted in significant negative environmental consequences, including decline of lakes, deterioration of water and air quality, and loss of biodiversity.