Wetland distribution trends in Central Asia

Nora Tesch1*, Niels Thevs2

1 Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany

2 World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Central Asia Programme, Kyrgyzstan

*Corresponding author: nora.tesch@mailbox.org

Niels Thevs: n.thevs@cgiar.org


Scientific Article


Anthropogenic activities and climate change contribute to the deterioration of wetlands worldwide with Central Asia (CA) being among the regions which are most severely affected. This study examined how the distribution of wetlands in CA has changed in the last two decades. Emphasis was put on inland wetlands protected as International Bird and Biodiversity Areas. Time series of maps of wetlands (i.e. reed beds) were created for the years 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2018. A supervised classification approach was applied using NDVI of MODIS satellite images with 1000m resolution for the respective years. Ground control points were acquired through fieldtrips to the lower Chu River, upper Ili River and Ili River Delta in Kazakhstan and the Amu Darya River Delta and the Lower Amu Darya State Biosphere Reserve in Uzbekistan. The applied method is not applicable for the classification of wetlands in northern Kazakhstan. The vegetation there is too alike to the wetland vegetation in terms of values and seasonality of NDVI. For the remaining part of the study area, the applied method delivers satisfying results. However, it is difficult to determine a general trend for most wetland areas since there is a large variability between years. This study marks a first attempt at examining wetlands in CA at a regional scale. The results provide a baseline for further, more detailed research through either fieldtrips or by using higher resolution remote sensing data.

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How to cite: Tesch, N., & Thevs, N. (2020). Wetland Distribution Trends in Central Asia. Central Asian Journal of Water Research, 6(1), 39–54. https://doi.org/10.29258/cajwr/2020-r1.v6-1/39-65.eng


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mapping, MODIS, NDVI, Phragmites australis, remote sensing