APPLICATION OF REMOTE SENSING AND GOOGLE EARTH ENGINE FOR MONITORING ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION IN THE NILGIRI BIOSPHERE RESERVE AND ITS ECOSYSTEM OF WESTERN GHATS, INDIA
Biosphere Reserves are archetypal parts of natural and cultural landscapes encompassing over large area of different ecosystem, it represents bio-geographic zones of an region. Globally, the areas of biosphere reserve is shrinking and exploiting due to the extreme climatic condition, natural calamities and anthropogenic activities, which leads to environmental and land degradation. In this paper Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBSR) area has been selected and it represents a biodiversity-rich ecosystem in the Western Ghats and includes two of the ten biogeographical provinces of India. Amongst the most insubstantial ecosystems in the world, the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is bearing the substance of climate change evident in increasingly unpredictable rainfall and higher temperatures during recent years. The region was mostly unscathed till two centuries ago, but has witnessed large-scale destruction ever since. In this scenario, a need of application of remote sensing and advance machine learning techniques to monitor environmental degradation and its ecosystem in NBSR is more essential. The objective of the present study is to develop satellite image classification techniques that can reliably to map forest cover and land use, and provide the basis for long-term monitoring. Advanced image classification techniques on the cloud-based platform Google Earth Engine (GEE) for mapping vegetation and land use types, and analyse their spatial distributions. To restore degraded ecosystems to their natural conditions through proper management and conservation practices. In order to understand the nature of environmental degradation and its ecosystem in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve; following thematic criteria’s were grouped in to four major indicators such as Terrain Indicator (TI), Environmental Indicator (EI), Hydro-Meteorological Indicator (HMI) and Socio-Economic Indicator (SEI). The utilisation of remote sensing product of huge datasets and various data product in analysis and advanced machine learning algorithm through Google earth engine are indispensable. After extraction of all the thematic layers by using multi criteria decision and fuzzy linear member based weight and ranks were assigned and overlay in GIS environment at a common pixel size of 30 m. Based on the analysis the resultant layer has been classified into five environmental degraded classes i.e., very high, high, moderate, slight and no degradation. This study is help to identify the degradation and long term monitoring and suggest the appropriate conservation, management and policies, it is a time to implement and protect the Nilgiri biosphere reserves without hindering present stage of natural environment in a sustainable manner.