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Remote sensing technologies can provide detailed assessments of the state of Protected Areas, including critical information on threats (such as deforestation and wildfire), while also facilitating habitat evaluation and change detection. A multitude of satellite-based sensors of varying characteristics are now in operation, enabling the mapping of land cover and land use at various spatial and temporal scales. A new generation of high-resolution satellites, coupled with recent advances in desktop computing power and Geographic Information Systems, has greatly enhanced the ability of conservationists and park managers to integrate remote sensing information into their management plans. For example, many species are restricted to specific habitats that can now be identified with remote sensing (Turner et al., 2003; Goetz et al., 2007; Stickler and Southworth, in press). However, despite the advancements mentioned, the perceived complexities of remote sensing data often discourage non-specialists from leveraging this valuable resource. Here we describe how imagery acquired from the well-known Landsat class of satellites can be used to monitor long-term changes in fire regime and wildlife habitat in Kibale National Park, Uganda, thus contributing to the rich body of long-term research at Kibale focusing on conservation applications.
The Kibale National Park
Located in southwestern Uganda, the 793 km2 Kibale National Park is one of only a few blocks of tropical forest remaining in the country. Only 3% of Uganda remains covered by rainforest, with nearly all found in the southwestern portion of the Albertine rift.
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