Deforestation and landscape structure changes related to socioeconomic dynamics and climate change in Zagros forests

Azad Henareh Khalyani, Audrey L. Mayer, Michael J. Falkowski, Daya Muralidharan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The Zagros region of western Iran has been affected by the recent changes both in amount and in structure of forest cover. We evaluated the influence of several driving forces on forest cover and structure, including socioeconomic (urban and rural population and rural income) and climatic (mean annual rainfall and mean annual temperature) variables. We acquired all time series Landsat images of a study site from 1972 to 2009. The images were classified to produce a land cover map of each year. We calculated landscape and patch metrics and identified independent sets of metrics to describe forest change. The most influential driving force for forest loss was urban population and climatic variables to some extent. These challenges should be addressed at broader scales than those associated with the livelihoods and traditional management of local communities. Rural population had a significant association with landscape structure which should be considered in designing restoration projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-340
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Land Use Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium and the Earth and Space Foundation (UK). We would like to thank also the researcher Jalal Henareh for his help with some data in Iran.


  • Zagros
  • climate change
  • deforestation
  • population
  • spatial patterns


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