Vol. 12 No. 1 (2018)

Spatial distribution of vegetation cover in Erbil city districts using high-resolution Pléiades satellite image

Published June 30, 2018
Shwan O. Hussein
Ferenc Kovács
Zalán Tobak
Haidi J. Abdullah


Hussein, S. O., Kovács, F., Tobak, Z., & Abdullah, H. J. (2018). Spatial distribution of vegetation cover in Erbil city districts using high-resolution Pléiades satellite image. Landscape &Amp; Environment, 12(1), 10–22. https://doi.org/10.21120/LE/12/1/2

Green spaces are playing an essential role for ecological balance and for human health in the city as well.
They play a fundamental role in providing opportunities for relaxation and enjoying the beauty of nature
for the urban population. Therefore, it is important to produce detailed vegetation maps to assist planners
in designing strategies for the optimisation of urban ecosystem services and to provide a suitable plan
for climate change adaptation in one fast growing city. Hence, this research is an investigation using 0.5
m high-resolution multispectral Pléiades data integrated with GIS data and techniques to detect and
evaluate the spatial distribution of vegetation cover in Erbil City. A supervised classification was used
to classify different land cover types, and a normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) was used
to retrieve it for the city districts. Moreover, to evaluate the accessibility of green space based on their
distance and size, a buffer zone criterion was used. The results indicate that the built-up land coverage
is 69% and vegetation land cover is 14%. Regarding NDVI results, the spatial distribution of vegetation
cover was various and, in general, the lowest NDVI values were found in the districts located in the city
centre. On the other hand, the spatial distribution of vegetation land cover regarding the city districts was
non-equal and non-concentric. The newly built districts and the districts far from the Central Business
District (CBD) recorded the lowest vegetation cover compared with the older constructed districts.
Furthermore, most of the districts have a lack of access to green spaces based on their distance and size.
Distance and accessibility of green areas throughout the city are not equally distributed. The majority of
the city districts have access to green areas within radius buffer of two kilometres, whereas the lowest
accessibility observed for those districts located in the northeast of the city in particular (Xanzad,
Brayate, Setaqan and Raperin). Our study is one of the first investigations of decision-making support
of the spatial planning in a fast-growing city in Iraq and will have a utilitarian impact on development
processes and local and regional planning for Erbil City in the future.


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