National Park Service

Southeast Coast Network (SECN)

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Land Cover & Use Monitoring

Fort Pulaski National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument

Land Use & Cover Monitoring Briefs & Reports (NPS Data Store)

For more information contact: Joe DeVivo

Monitoring Objectives

  • Determine the physiognomic class and change class of 0.5-ha grid cells for all areas of SECN parks.
  • Determine trends in the type, location, and variability of land cover and land use within and around SECN parks as determined by analysis of existing and emergent GIS data layers.
  • Determine the frequency, and spatial extent of natural and anthropogenic and natural changes to the landscape caused by land management or natural disturbance events.


Land Use and associated change within and among land use types were identified in all conceptual models as a significant driver of ecosystem processes. The types and changes among land use and land cover types within the general landscape are expected to gain in significance in the future as human population growth and associated external development pressures grow. Of primary concern to parks are effects of changing landscape dynamics on water resources, air resources, and effects on park resources (in general) due to increasing visitation rates. Equally important are changes to the landscape from the various types and locations of park resource management efforts (i.e., fire management, exotic plant management, and restoration).

Monitoring Approach

Change Detection

The purpose of this protocol is to use a change-focused method for SECN, similar to what was has been developed by the North Coast and Cascades Network (Kennedy et al. 2006). The data gathered from this Vital Sign will be used to explain patterns in other vital signs, and to contribute to the sampling designs for Plant Communities and Wildlife Communities.

Park-wide analyses of SPOT imagery will be conducted to classify 0.5 ha grid cells into one of nine physiognomic classes and one of 15 change classes (please see below). SPOT imagery has been selected because of cost, a wide range of resolutions (20m to 2.5 m), the expected longevity of the technology, and the ability to acquire imagery on request. Mapping of physiognomic classes and change detection analysis will be conducted once every three years, with analysis to be completed on imagery acquired no more than one year prior to sampling plant and wildlife communities.

Physiognomic Classes Change Classes
Water / Deep Shade No change
Closed-canopy Conifer Water to Rock / Soil
Conifer-broadleaf Mix Water to Partial Vegetation Cover
Dense Broadleaf / Grass Water to Complete Vegetation Cover
Broadleaf Tree / Shrub Rock / Soil to Water
Mixed Partial Vegetation to Water
Open - Dark Complete Vegetation to Water
Open - Bright Increase in Broadleaf
Wetland Increase in Conifer
Increase in Vegetation
Increase in Wetland
Decrease in Broadleaf
Decrease in Conifer
Decrease in Vegetation
Decrease in Wetland

Land Management and Disturbance Tracking

During scoping meetings, land management and disturbance patterns were identified as a necessary reference data set to support modeling and management efforts by the Network and park staff. Geospatial data on fire and exotic species management will be acquired from regional and park staff. This data will be analyzed relative to plot locations. This protocol will occur every three to five years.

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Parks Where Protocol Will Be Implemented

All SECN parks.

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  • Kennedy, R.E. W.B. Cohen, A.A. Kirshbaum and E. Haunreiter. 2006. Protocol for LANDSAT-based monitoring of landscape dynamics at North Coast and Cascades Network Parks. National Park Service, Corvallis, Oregon.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster