Evaluation of Land Cover Changes in Southwestern Lithuania from 1984 to 2018 Using Medium Spatial Resolution Satellite Imagery
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Department of Biometry, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania
Marine Research Institute, Klaipėda University, Lithuania
Dariusz Gozdowski   

Department of Biometry, Warsaw University of Life Sciences - SGGW, Nowoursynowska 159, 02-776, Warsaw, Poland
Submission date: 2019-10-14
Final revision date: 2020-03-03
Acceptance date: 2020-03-04
Online publication date: 2020-06-01
Publication date: 2020-08-05
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2020;29(6):4041–4051
In this study, we assess the land cover changes in southwestern Lithuania from 1984 to 2018. These changes were examined using data derived from Landsat 5, Landsat 8, and Sentinel-2 multispectral images. The study area encompasses the Nemunas Delta, which is affected by river-induced floods leading to seasonal variations in water coverage. The water-covered area was found to be quite stable across the years during the dry seasons, i.e., in summer and early autumn. A significant increase in forested areas was observed during the study period (from 15.1% to 19.0% of the total area). During the examined period, the average size of agricultural parcels decreased several times (from approximately 35 ha to approximately 5 ha), which was caused by the transition from socialist to private ownershipbased agricultural practices in the early 1990s. Almost all changes observed had rather positive environmental impacts (for biodiversity and maintenance of wildlife). Positive impacts included the establishment of several new protected territories between analysed periods. Negative impacts included the construction of wind turbines (approximately 50 in the area of study), which were not present at the beginning of the study period and may negatively affect the natural (agricultural and wetland) landscape of the region.