Assessing the Dynamic of Structural Changes in Cerrado Vegetation of Protected and Non-Protected Areas using NDVI

Joao Arthur Pompeu Pavanelli, Elza Guimaraes


The structure of Brazilian savannah, named locally as “cerrado”, tends to change if the human pressures, such as pasture and intensive fire, are suppressed showing a densification of the physiognomies throughout the time. Vegetation Index acquired from remotely sensed data has been a proper way to study and monitoring large areas, and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is one of the most used for this purpose. The aim of this study was to assess the dynamic of structural changes in protected and non-protected areas of cerrado vegetation using NDVI. For this purpose, three cerrado fragments in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, were evaluated for a 26 year time span from 1985 and 2011, being two of them protected against anthropogenic interference. Landsat 5 –Thematic Mapper images were used and processed in ArcGIS. In the protected areas NDVI indicated that the vegetation followed the expected trend of changes for cerrado, with more open physiognomies tending to be denser throughout this period of 26 years, whereas in the non-protected fragment the NDVI evidences human pressure, showing lower phytomass in 2011. NDVI showed to be efficient in detecting and monitoring changes in cerrado vegetation structure, and can be useful to study both, the natural dynamics of cerrado vegetation and the anthropogenic interference in protected areas.


Brazilian Savannah; Phytomass; Remote Sensing

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