Long-term trends in anthropogenic land use in Siberia and the Russian Far East: a case study synthesis from Landsat

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As globally important forested areas situated in a context of dramatic socio-economic changes, Siberia and the Russian Far East (RFE) are important regions to monitor for anthropogenic land-use trends. Therefore, we compiled decadal Landsat-derived land-cover and land-use data for eight dominantly rural case study sites in these regions and focused on trends associated with settlements, agriculture, logging, and roads 1975–2010. Several key spatial–temporal trends emerged from the integrated landscape-scale analyses. First, road building increased in all case study sites over the 35-year period, despite widespread socio-economic decline post-1990. Second, increase in settlements area was negligible over all sites. Third, increased road building, largely of minor roads, was especially high in more rugged and remote RFE case study sites not associated with greater agriculture extent or settlement densities. High demands for wood export coupled with the expansion of commercial timber harvest leases starting in the mid-1990s are likely among leading reasons for an increase in roads. Fourth, although fire was the dominant disturbance over all sites and dates combined, logging exerted a strong land-use pattern, serving as a reminder that considering local anthropogenic landscapes is important, especially in Siberia and the RFE, which represent almost 10% of the Earth's terrestrial land surface. The paper concludes by identifying remaining research needs regarding anthropogenic land use in the region: more frequent moderate spatial resolution imagery and greater access to more finely resolved statistical and other spatial data will enable further research.

Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Environmental Research Letters
Date Published: 
September 30, 2020
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Bergen, Kathleen M., Tatiana Loboda, Joshua P. Newell, Viacheslav Kharuk, Stephanie Hitztaler, Sun, G., Johnson, T., Hoffman-Hall, A., Ouyang, W., Park K., Fort, C., and Gargulinski, E. (2020) “Long-term trends in anthropogenic land use in Siberia and the Russian Far East: A case study synthesis from Landsat.” Environmental Research Letters. 15(105007):1-17.
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