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Vegetation trends associated with urban development: The role of golf courses

Nguyen, T.T., Barber, P., Harper, R.ORCID: 0000-0003-0268-2917, Linh, T.V.K. and Dell, B. (2020) Vegetation trends associated with urban development: The role of golf courses. PLoS ONE, 15 (2). e0228090.

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Globally, cities are growing rapidly in size and density and this has caused profound impacts on urban forest ecosystems. Urbanization requiring deforestation reduces ecosystem services that benefit both city dwellers and biodiversity. Understanding spatial and temporal patterns of vegetation changes associated with urbanization is thus a vital component of future sustainable urban development. We used Landsat time series data for three decades from 1988 to 2018 to characterize changes in vegetation cover and habitat connectivity in the Perth Metropolitan Area, in a rapidly urbanising Australian biodiversity hotspot, as a case study to understand the impacts of urbanization on urban forests. Moreover, as golf courses are a major component in urban areas, we assessed the role of golf courses in maintaining vegetation cover and creating habitat connectivity. To do this we employed (1) land use classification with post-classification change detection, and (2) Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis (MSPA). Over 17,000 ha of vegetation were cleared and the area of vegetation contributing to biodiversity connectivity was reduced significantly over the three decades. The spatial patterns of vegetation loss and gain were different in each of the three decades (1988–2018) reflecting the implementation of urban planning. Furthermore, MSPA analysis showed that the reduction in vegetation cover led to habitat fragmentation with a significant decrease in the core and bridge classes and an increase in isolated patches in the urban landscape. Golf courses played a useful role in maintaining vegetation cover and contributing to connectivity in a regional biodiversity hotspot. Our findings suggest that for future urban expansion, urban planning needs to more carefully consider the impacts of deforestation on connectivity in the landscape. Moreover, there is a need to take into consideration opportunities for off-reserve conservation in smaller habitat fragments such as in golf courses in sustainable urban management.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2020 Nguyen et al.
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