Mapping the land cover of Bonaire based on very high resolution PLEIADES satellite data of 2014-2016
Bonaire is rich in natural terrestrial ecosystems ranging from dry tropical forest, caves and beaches to salt lakes and mangroves. These ecosystems provide a wealth of ecosystem services to Bonaire's population, including food provisioning, recreation opportunities for tourists, cultural heritage and habitat provisioning. A large part of the land is protected in the form of a national park, RAMSAR wetlands, Important Bird Areas and as Key Biodiversity Areas (Verweij and Mücher in Debrot et al. 2017; minLnv 2020).
Well-being and prosperity of the island's population are highly dependent on the quality of the natural environment. Bonaire is facing major challenges: managing (mass) tourism and population growth, preventing high erosion rates due to free roaming cattle, recharging fresh water into the soil, adaptation to climate change and halting biodiversity loss (Verweij et al. 2020; Debrot et al. 2017).
The interaction of the natural ecosystems with human activities is reflected in the land cover. Understanding current land cover and how the land is being used, especially with regard to the aforementioned challenges, is elementary for land management and land use planning. Measuring current conditions is achieved through land cover mapping. Satellite images are often used as basis for land cover mapping as it allows to take a measured snapshot covering the entire study area at a single moment in time. Multiple images through time can show how the land cover changes over time (Saah et al. 2019).
In this study we developed a spatial land cover classification database of Bonaire based on high resolution (2x2 m2) satellite imagery, field observations and supplemented with local knowledge. Basis of inspiration for the land cover classification was a sabbatical that Sander Mücher had in 2016 at the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) in Kralendijk, Bonaire.
You can download the land cover data file here.