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Evaluate the Effect of Topographic Factors and Lithology on Forest Cover Distribution: a Case Study of the Moroccan High Atlas.

Maimouni, Soufiane, Daghor, Lamia, Oukassou, Mostafa, El Moutaki, Saida et Lhissou, Rachid (2021). Evaluate the Effect of Topographic Factors and Lithology on Forest Cover Distribution: a Case Study of the Moroccan High Atlas. Environmental Modeling & Assessment , vol. 26 , nº 5. p. 787-801. DOI: 10.1007/s10666-021-09785-3.

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Understanding the relationship between the spatial distribution of forest vegetation and infuencing factors provides valuable information to decision-makers in land planning, for the sustainable development of forests and efcient monitoring of environmental and ecological issues. This paper aims to understand the efect of topographic factors and lithology on forest cover distribution around Bin El Ouidane dam in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, using remote sensing, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), feld observation, and statistical analysis. The forest vegetation was quantifed by calculating the Normalized Vegetation Diference Index (NDVI) from Operational Land Imager (OLI) images. The NDVI was classifed according to the density of forest vegetation into four levels: bare soil, low density of forest cover, moderate density of forest cover, and high density of forest cover. The correlation analysis between NDVI, interpreted as forest densities and topographic parameters (elevation, slope, and aspect), derived from the Digital Elevation Model (DEM), showed that elevation has the most signifcant positive correlation with forest density, with r=0.563 and a p-value less than 0.05. Additionally, moderate and high densities of forest vegetation are optimal in the terrain aspect of the South-East and North-West, respectively. However, the NDVI variation cannot be interpreted only by altitude and terrain aspect. The Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) classifcation has been used to map and to separate the forest vegetation types. The statistical results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that the altitude is the most important topographic factor afecting the distribution of forest species. The analysis of frequency histograms revealed that Holm oaks are increasing at high altitudes, and are more abundant in the North-West, while the Thuya species prefer moderate altitudes and are more abundant in the South-East-facing aspects. In our study area, the Holm oak develops on limestone formations. On the contrary, Thuya does not thrive in lithological conditions, and is found with a decreasing level of predominance on limestones, marls-limestones, and sandstones, respectively. The conclusion of the study shows that a combination of topographic factors and lithological conditions afects the spatial distribution of forest vegetation. The adaptation of the forest species to specifc topography and lithological conditions should be considered for forest management. It can be helpful in selecting potential sites for reforestation of these species, for conservation of the natural resources, including water and soil

Type de document: Article
Mots-clés libres: NDVI; spectral angle mapper; remote sensing; DEM; GIS; forest species; moroccan high atla
Centre: Centre Eau Terre Environnement
Date de dépôt: 15 oct. 2021 18:02
Dernière modification: 15 oct. 2021 18:02
URI: https://espace.inrs.ca/id/eprint/12013

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