Land use change detection in Esfarayen region, northern Khorasan, in past four decades
According to the studies conducted in northern Khorasan province, land use changes is one of the most effective factors in desertification of the region. In this province, lack of accurate and updated information for land use mapping and change detection analysis is a major issue. Therefore, the aim of this study was to map and monitor land use changes in Esfarayen region, northern Khorasan province over 36 years. For this purpose, Landsat satellite images of two periods including 1973 and 2009 were selected, geometric and radiometric corrections were applied. Then, using different image analysis methods such as fuzzy classification, land use maps of the study area were produced. For change detection purposes, the post-classification technique was used. The results of change detection analysis showed that in the period of the study (36-year), irrigated agriculture class has changed the most among extracted land uses in the region and its area has increased from 4,269 hectares to 15,586 hectares. Another important change is residential area (Esfarayen city) which has increased from 57 hectares to 664 hectares. Also, the area of industrial land use such as Esfarayen Industrial Complex and Esfarayen dam which has been constructed in recent years showed an increase about 22 hectares. Population increase and migration are two main reasons for these dramatic changes. In contrast to above land uses, rangeland and irrigated - orchard classes, showed a significant decrease because of development in industrial and water resources sector. An environmental positive change which has been occurred in the study area is that range woodland has increased about 10 percent in 36 years because of rehabilitating of 12 thousand hectares of rangeland and bare lands. As results show, remote sensing technology can be used as an effective land management tool for development and conservation of natural resources of the country.