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Assessment of trampling impact in Icelandic natural areas in experimental plots with focus on image analysis of digital photographs

Gatzouras, Maria LU (2015) In Student thesis series INES NGEM02 20151
Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Abstract
Increasing tourism in the spectacular but sensitive ecosystems in Iceland arises concern to the country’s authorities how to best manage tourism in these natural areas within a level of acceptable change. Research is thus required regarding what affect tourism has on different environments. Deterioration of natural areas in Iceland from trampling by numerous hikers are causing visible vegetation loss, widening and deepening of existing hiking trails with subsequent soil erosion.
In this study, the primary goal was to assess impact to three typical Icelandic vegetation types (grassland, mossheath and moss) due to recreational short-duration trampling pressure. Measurements in experimental plots of soil compaction, soil moisture, soil... (More)
Increasing tourism in the spectacular but sensitive ecosystems in Iceland arises concern to the country’s authorities how to best manage tourism in these natural areas within a level of acceptable change. Research is thus required regarding what affect tourism has on different environments. Deterioration of natural areas in Iceland from trampling by numerous hikers are causing visible vegetation loss, widening and deepening of existing hiking trails with subsequent soil erosion.
In this study, the primary goal was to assess impact to three typical Icelandic vegetation types (grassland, mossheath and moss) due to recreational short-duration trampling pressure. Measurements in experimental plots of soil compaction, soil moisture, soil surface depth, and vegetation cover were analysed for different hiking pressures. The study areas include the two most popular areas of nature-based tourism in Iceland; Þingvellir [ˈθiŋkˌvɛtlɪr̥] National Park and Fjallabak Nature Reserve.
One of the main issues in field measurement techniques is how to achieve a cost- and time effective method to estimate vegetation cover with adequate accuracy. The second goal of this study was to assess the performance of digital photography and subsequent image analysis as a tool for estimating vegetation cover, a method not previously used in the field of recreational trampling research. Three different methods are evaluated; supervised classification of the images, segmentation of the images using the ExGR (Excess Green minus Excess Red) index and extraction of greenness information from the images through application of the Green Chromatic Coordinate (GCC). The results, together with previous research show that image analysis of digital photography is a valuable tool for detecting changes in vegetation. All three methods applied show ability to assess vegetation cover, the supervised classification method being the most accurate method for quantitative measurements. The Icelandic vegetation types consist greatly of moss species of various colors not enhanced when greenness indices are applied to the RGB images. Nevertheless, the greenness index methods resulted in the same conclusion as the supervised classification method as regards the relationship between vegetation cover and trampling pressure, and in the evaluation of the resistance of each vegetation type.
All vegetation types show being significantly altered with added trampling pressure in terms of change of the physical properties of soil and of vegetation cover. The mossheath vegetation type, and especially the type in the highland (Fjallabak Nature Reserve) is verified as being the least resistant to trampling pressure. Relationships of soil compaction, surface depth and vegetation cover with trampling were curvilinear, suggesting higher rates of damage at initial stages of trampling. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Increasing tourism in the spectacular but sensitive ecosystems in Iceland arises concern to the country’s authorities how to best manage tourism in these natural areas within a level of acceptable change. Research is thus required regarding what affect tourism has on different environments. Deterioration of natural areas in Iceland from trampling by numerous hikers are causing visible vegetation loss, widening and deepening of existing hiking trails with subsequent soil erosion.
In this study, the primary goal was to assess impact to three typical Icelandic vegetation types (grassland, mossheath and moss) due to recreational trampling pressure. Measurements in experimental plots of soil compaction, soil moisture, soil surface depth, and... (More)
Increasing tourism in the spectacular but sensitive ecosystems in Iceland arises concern to the country’s authorities how to best manage tourism in these natural areas within a level of acceptable change. Research is thus required regarding what affect tourism has on different environments. Deterioration of natural areas in Iceland from trampling by numerous hikers are causing visible vegetation loss, widening and deepening of existing hiking trails with subsequent soil erosion.
In this study, the primary goal was to assess impact to three typical Icelandic vegetation types (grassland, mossheath and moss) due to recreational trampling pressure. Measurements in experimental plots of soil compaction, soil moisture, soil surface depth, and vegetation cover were analysed for different hiking pressures. The study areas include the two most popular areas of nature-based tourism in Iceland; Þingvellir [ˈθiŋkˌvɛtlɪr̥] National Park and Fjallabak Nature Reserve.
The second goal of this study was to assess the performance of digital photography and subsequent image analysis as a tool for estimating vegetation cover, a more accurate, cost- and time effective method not previously used in the field of recreational trampling research. Three different methods are evaluated; the more traditional way of classifying land cover types depending on their spectral reflectance (supervised classification), and two methods where greenness formulas are applied on the spectral reflectance values of the pixels to enhance the greenness information within the digital images (ExGR and GCC index).
The results, together with previous research, show that image analysis of digital photography is a valuable tool for detecting changes in vegetation. All three methods applied show ability to assess vegetation cover, the supervised classification method being the most accurate method for quantitative measurements. The Icelandic vegetation types consist greatly of moss species of various colors not enhanced when greenness indices are applied to the digital images. Nevertheless, the greenness index methods resulted in the same conclusion as the supervised classification method as regards the relationship between vegetation cover and trampling pressure, and in the evaluation of the resistance of each vegetation type.
All vegetation types show being significantly altered with added trampling pressure in terms of change of the physical properties of soil and of vegetation cover. The mossheath vegetation type, and especially the type in the highland (Fjallabak Nature Reserve) is verified as being the least resistant to trampling pressure. Relationships of soil compaction, surface depth and vegetation cover with trampling were curvilinear, suggesting higher rates of damage at initial stages of trampling. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Gatzouras, Maria LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Assessment of impact from hiking pressure in Icelandic natural areas with focus on image analysis of digital photographs
course
NGEM02 20151
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
vegetation cover, RGB images, recreational trampling, natural areas, greenness index, experimental plots, digital photography, Physical Geography and Ecosystem Analysis
publication/series
Student thesis series INES
report number
351
language
English
id
7450433
date added to LUP
2015-06-25 15:51:36
date last changed
2015-06-25 15:51:36
@misc{7450433,
  abstract     = {Increasing tourism in the spectacular but sensitive ecosystems in Iceland arises concern to the country’s authorities how to best manage tourism in these natural areas within a level of acceptable change. Research is thus required regarding what affect tourism has on different environments. Deterioration of natural areas in Iceland from trampling by numerous hikers are causing visible vegetation loss, widening and deepening of existing hiking trails with subsequent soil erosion.
In this study, the primary goal was to assess impact to three typical Icelandic vegetation types (grassland, mossheath and moss) due to recreational short-duration trampling pressure. Measurements in experimental plots of soil compaction, soil moisture, soil surface depth, and vegetation cover were analysed for different hiking pressures. The study areas include the two most popular areas of nature-based tourism in Iceland; Þingvellir [ˈθiŋkˌvɛtlɪr̥] National Park and Fjallabak Nature Reserve.
One of the main issues in field measurement techniques is how to achieve a cost- and time effective method to estimate vegetation cover with adequate accuracy. The second goal of this study was to assess the performance of digital photography and subsequent image analysis as a tool for estimating vegetation cover, a method not previously used in the field of recreational trampling research. Three different methods are evaluated; supervised classification of the images, segmentation of the images using the ExGR (Excess Green minus Excess Red) index and extraction of greenness information from the images through application of the Green Chromatic Coordinate (GCC). The results, together with previous research show that image analysis of digital photography is a valuable tool for detecting changes in vegetation. All three methods applied show ability to assess vegetation cover, the supervised classification method being the most accurate method for quantitative measurements. The Icelandic vegetation types consist greatly of moss species of various colors not enhanced when greenness indices are applied to the RGB images. Nevertheless, the greenness index methods resulted in the same conclusion as the supervised classification method as regards the relationship between vegetation cover and trampling pressure, and in the evaluation of the resistance of each vegetation type. 
All vegetation types show being significantly altered with added trampling pressure in terms of change of the physical properties of soil and of vegetation cover. The mossheath vegetation type, and especially the type in the highland (Fjallabak Nature Reserve) is verified as being the least resistant to trampling pressure. Relationships of soil compaction, surface depth and vegetation cover with trampling were curvilinear, suggesting higher rates of damage at initial stages of trampling.},
  author       = {Gatzouras, Maria},
  keyword      = {vegetation cover,RGB images,recreational trampling,natural areas,greenness index,experimental plots,digital photography,Physical Geography and Ecosystem Analysis},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Student thesis series INES},
  title        = {Assessment of trampling impact in Icelandic natural areas in experimental plots with focus on image analysis of digital photographs},
  year         = {2015},
}