Monitoring vegetation coverage in Tongren from 2000 to 2016 based on Landsat7 ETM+ and Landsat8

Abstract Vegetation coverage is an important indicator in regional ecological environment monitoring and plays a key role in its quality assessment. We consider Landsat7 ETM+ in 2000 and Landsat8 in 2016 as data sources using a different time phase partial image substitution method to eliminate cloud effects and an NDVI dimidiate pixel model to invert the vegetation coverage of the two time phases. We further classify them into five grades, provide statistics and analyse the areas of different grades at different time periods, while monitoring the spatial evolution of vegetation coverage over the past 16 years in Tongren. Experimental results showed that: (1) the different time phase partial image substitution method could reduce the influence of clouds on vegetation extraction; (2) in Tongren, the vegetation coverage area was decreased from 17,300.1 km2 to 17,224.8 km2 (i.e. decreased by 75.3 km2); (3) the areas of grade I and V increased by 0.42% and 15.08%, respectively, whereas the areas of grade II, III and IV decreased by 3.15%, 6.98% and 5.37%, respectively, which indicates that most of the area containing lower amount of vegetation gradually altered into an area containing a higher coverage of vegetation, whereas a few areas became bare land; and (4) the vegetation areas decreased due to expansion of cities and construction of dams, while vegetation increased due to the cultivation of crops and trees. Research shows that the overall evolution of vegetation coverage in Tongren is considerably good. However, while undertaking future development in the mountainous Karst region, one should be aware of the land’s intensive use and environmental protection.