Technical Report on Land Cover Mapping 2010

Executive Summary

Land cover is defined as the observed (bio) physical cover on the earth’s surface which is believed to provide critical refuge and spawning habitats for many life forms. In the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB), the health of these habitats is considered "good" but threatened by development. A wide range of stakeholders recognises the importance of land cover for sustaining human-dependent livelihoods and maintaining the ecological integrity of the basin, as reflected in the widespread use of land cover types as the basis for agro-ecological zones.

To develop and update a land cover map of the Lower Mekong Basin for 2010, the MRC Secretariat cooperated with Member Countries to conduct field surveys on land cover at 9,357 points in 703 areas across the basin. This report seeks to contribute to improving knowledge and understanding of the distribution, ecological functioning and conservation of land cover with a synthesis of the results of field surveys coupled with interpretations of satellite imagery. Information is illustrated in land cover description cards in the Report of Land Cover Information. The Project to Update the Land Cover Map of the Lower Mekong Basin has generated important baseline data for water resource planning, floodplain management and other activities such as hydrological and climate change studies together with environmental modelling.

The land cover data set covers both the dry and wet seasons in 2009 and 2010 as well as a separate annual data comprising a combination of the two. The annual map for 2010 shows that broadleaved deciduous forest and paddy rice accounted for more than half the land cover of the Lower Mekong Basin. Shrubland was the next most common type of land cover followed by broadleaved evergreen forest, annual crops, industrial plantations and urban areas. Broadleaved deciduous forest alone accounted for 30 percent of the basin's land cover, up from 20 percent in the previous map of land cover produced for 2003. Paddy rice accounted for 22 percent, down from 25 percent. In addition to providing updated estimates for other types of land cover, the map for 2010 also features new seasonal crop data for shrimp rotating with paddy rice between the dry and wet seasons and paddy rice rotating with annual crops.

The updated land cover data set is very important to support decision making. The data, information and image interpretation are also useful for those engaged in studies and research in the Lower Mekong Basin. At the same time, this report seeks to raise awareness among stakeholders of the significance and ecological functions of land cover in the LMB. The technical report on Land Cover Mapping 2010 project provides overall processes since the detailed description from the field survey tasks from four member countries; it also includes the satellite image interpretation and accuracy assessment on the interpreted results. The dry and wet season of the land cover map year 2010 could be manipulate to be the annual land cover dataset as well as the change detection as display into the draft technical paper.