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Conflict to post-conflict LULC Transitions in Kabul, Afghanistan

Authors: Jessica DeWitt*, United States Geological Survey, Marissa Alessi, United States Geological Survey, Katie Boston, University of Mary Washington
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Middle East, Remote Sensing
Keywords: Afghanistan, land cover change, conflict, Landsat
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Afghanistan is a developing nation that has been mired in civil and international conflict for nearly 60 years. A new constitution and presidential election in 2004 pushed Afghanistan towards a post-conflict democratic government. Following this change, Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, experienced rapid development and urban expansion. This study investigated the extent and spatial distribution of land use/ land cover (LULC) classes over the past several decades using supervised classification of Landsat multispectral satellite imagery from 1998, 2008, and 2018. Agricultural land use was further investigated through detailed yearly normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) analysis of imagery collected between 1998 and 2018. Finally, transitions in the location of clay mining and brick making were observed using very high-resolution satellite imagery. Trends in the spatial distribution of these land uses over time were examined through a comparison to district boundaries, and in consideration of significant events in Afghanistan’s recent history. The results indicate that agricultural land use has decreased substantially in certain districts and shifted away from Kabul’s rapidly urbanizing center. These land use changes warrant further attention, as decreased agricultural capability in the periphery of the city has implications for food availability to support the growing population. Brick making land use has drastically increased in districts northeast of the city. More extensive brick making raises significant environmental, human heath, and human rights concerns. As Afghanistan’s democratic government matures, it may need to provide oversight and promote sustainable growth of these land uses.

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