Delineation of Suitable Cropland Areas Using a GIS Based Multi-Criteria Evaluation Approach in the Tam Dao National Park Region, Vietnam
Land degradation is recognized as one of the major threats to the buffer zones of protected areas (PAs) in Vietnam. In particular, the expansion of land degradation into the PAs is exerting pressure on biodiversity conservation efforts. This degradation is partially the result of mismanagement: the utilization of the land is often unmatched with the inherent suitability of the land. Identification of the spatial distribution of suitable areas for cropland is essential for sustainable land-use recommendation. This paper aims to delineate the areas suitable for cropland in the Tam Dao National Park (TDNP) region using a GIS-based multi-criteria evaluation of biophysical factors and Landsat ETM+ imagery. GIS is used to generate the factors, while MCE is used to aggregate them into a land suitability index. The results indicate the location and extent of crop farming areas at different suitability levels, i.e ., most suitable (28.10%), moderately suitable (23.96%), marginally suitable (28.77%), and least suitable (19.17%). The current cropland covers 46.5% of the study area, while most and moderately suitable areas are estimated to be 52.06% of the territory. The results can be used to identify priority areas for crop farming and sustainable land-use management. The GIS-MCE approach provides an effective assessment tool for land-use managers working in protected areas of Vietnam.
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