Characterizing patterns of land degradation potential and agro-ecological sustainability in Nang Rong, Thailand

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Geography and Geology


Soil crop suitability data was used to characterize and evaluate land-use/lond-cover (LULC) classifications derived from Landsat TM and MSS imagery for 1997, 1985, and 1972. Landsat spectral classifications were post-processed using GIS data into a time-series of pixels that were identified as having agricultural potential (not including household gardens within settlements), and then compared with soil suitability variables to characterize LULC patterns and assess the likelihood of potential for land degradation within the Nang Rang, Thailand study area. Results of this estimate indicate that for extensive areas of upland cash cropping, particularly in the case of cassava, a significant potential for land degradation and hence agro-ecological unsustainability exists. Lowland rain-fed rice cropping, the most areally extensive and temporally persistent form of agriculture, is revealed to be largely agro-ecologically sustainable. A trend in the Nang Rang region is towards planting fast growing eucalyptus trees, a non-native species known to be damaging to the soil and ecology, as a cash crop in both upland and lowland settings for pulpwood, construction framing, and biofuel feedstock, making future potential land degradation scenarios somewhat different than in the past and ongoing monitoring critical.

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