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GIS techniques for Mapping highly Fragmented ecosystems- A case study on the Myristica swamp forests of Southern Kerala, India

Author Affiliations

  • 1Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala, INDIA
  • 2St Thomas’ College, Thrissur, Kerala, INDIA

Res. J. Recent Sci., Volume 3, Issue (ISC-2013), Pages 110-119, (2014)


Myristica swamps are a highly fragmented, threatened and endangered freshwater swamp forest ecosystem of Western Ghats with distribution restricted to flat bottomed valleys with sluggish streams in altitudinal range of 100 – 200 m. In southern Kerala these swamps are present in Kulthupuzha, Anchal forest ranges and Shendurney WLS. The small size of swamp patches and thick forest canopy challenge the efficacy of usual mapping techniques such as Remote sensing and GPS survey. So a combination of conventional (compass survey) and latest survey technique (GPS survey) was used for the mapping. Conversion, plotting of spatial layers, map generation and analysis was done by using customized and Open Source GIS softwares. We mapped 60 Myristica swamp patches from the study area contributing 149.75 hectare (ha) (0.01348% of Kerala forest). The area of swamps ranges from 0.22 to 16 ha Kulathupuzha Forest Range has 31 swamps (78.73 ha), Shendurney WLS has 16 (37.35ha) and Anchal has 13 (33.67ha). GIS simulation studies reveals that 148.57 km2 area (1.34% of Kerala forest) in Kerala has potential for Myristica swamps, in which Thiruvanathapuram and Punalur forest division has maximum area to support Myristica swamps. Exact mapping proved a decisive tool for conservation and management efforts.


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