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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Applicability of Landsat TM data for inventorying and monitoring of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) plantations in Selangor, Malaysia : linkages to policies Suratman, Mohd Nazip

Abstract

Rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis (Wild, ex Adr. de Juss.) Muell Arg.) plantations in Malaysia are important sources of natural rubber and wood products. Effective management and appropriate policy for these resources require reliable information on resource dynamics and forecasts of resource availability. The need for inventories and monitoring systems prompted this research into utilising ground information and satellite imagery for developing methods for forest plantation inventory. Monitoring procedures were developed using three dates of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery. The specific objectives of the research were: (1) to develop an effective method for inventorying rubber tree plantations using an appropriate combination of satellite imagery and ground sampling in the State of Selangor, Malaysia; (2) to demonstrate the application of a Landsat TM-based rubber volume model in an extended area of rubber plantations south of Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia; (3) to develop an operational methodology for monitoring land use/cover change, with a primary focus on rubber plantations; and (4) to identify relationships between the primary drivers of resource change and policies, and examine the evidence of policies - rubber area change linkages in the study area. Reasonably accurate predictions of the volume, age, and area of rubber plantations were obtained from Landsat TM data. The use of supervised image classification and an image segmentation approach for rubber volume model application showed better performance for volume prediction than a combined land use/cover and rubber volume classification technique, thus providing a useful tool for displaying rubber stand volume within segments or spatial units across the landscape. The combined use of a time series of Landsat TM imagery, modified postclassification change detection, and geographic information system (GIS) techniques made it possible to produce land use/cover change matrices and rubber area change information, thus helping to understand the dynamics of the rubber tree resource. The decrease in the area of rubber plantations and the increase in the area of mixed crops from 1989 - 1993 in south of K L were partly attributed to the adoption of a crop diversification policy which was driven by relatively poor natural rubber prices during that time. The decrease in the areas of rubber plantations from 1993 - 1999 in this area was primarily due to rapid urbanization and infrastructure development driven by demographic expansion in the area south of KL. This thesis makes a practical contribution to the development of methods for inventory of forest plantations by linking ground information with model projections based on satellite data. Additionally, the thesis demonstrates the development of monitoring tools to assess resource availability and variability over time, and establish its linkages to policies. The inventory information, models, and monitoring protocols are needed for effective resource management planning aimed at maximizing the potential benefits of rubber tree crops for wood and natural rubber supply in Malaysia.

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