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Robust data on the spatial distribution of land degradation is important for resource conservation planning. Spatial land degradation status of India was mapped using multi-temporal Linear Imaging Self Scanning Sensor (LISS-III) data acquired from Resourcesat-1/2 during 2005–2006 and 2015–2016 under the Natural Resources Census programme of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Heads-up on-screen visual interpretation of multi-season satellite data was carried out, supported by digital elevation model and other historical maps available. Visual interpretation cues were developed and employed across various partner institutions to achieve consistency in mapping. The outputs were subjected to two-stage quality check. Results indicate that the total land degradation of India was 91.2 M ha (27.77% of the geographical extent of the country) during 2015–2016 against 91.3 M ha during 2005–2006. During the ten-year period, there was an overall decrease of around 0.1 M ha in degraded land. However, noticeable intra- and inter-class changes were observed in land degradation during the ten-year period. Major reclamation was noticed in sand dunes which were converted into crop lands by levelling them. Substantial decrease in severity and extent of salt-affected soils was noticed in Uttar Pradesh.


Change detection, land degradation, visual interpretation, sand dunes, soil erosion, spatial distribution.
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