Using NASA Sensors to Analyze Threats to the Environment in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

EarthzineDEVELOP Summer 2013 VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Original

Visual Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) land cover assessment of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, with urban areas derived from the VIIRS day-night band and roads in black.

Team Location: Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama; and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal


Kel Markert (University of Alabama in Huntsville)

Nabin Paudel (Kathmandu University)

Rukumani Rimal (Tribhuvan University)

Shishir Kumar Sarker (University of Dhaka)

Labiba Farhana (University of Dhaka)

Pornampai Narenpitak (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Kenton Ross, Ph.D. (NASA, DEVELOP National Science Advisor)

Jeff Luvall, Ph.D. (NASA, Global Hydrology and Climatology Center)

Sebastian Wesselman (ICIMOD)


The main objective of this study was to monitor threats to the forested areas in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region (CHT), located in southeastern Bangladesh. Three main aspects of the threats – 1) anthropogenic land use, 2) forest fire, and 3) forest fragmentation – were analyzed. Additionally, modeling was performed to prioritize urban growth where additional conservation measures may be required.

The first threat evaluated was the land use, land cover and population change in the protected area (PA) in the CHT. It was evaluated using maps of the CHT region in 1990, 2000 and 2010, along with satellite data. The second risk analyzed the threat from forest fire, one of the frequent natural disasters impacting the PA, by analyzing the thematic maps and graphs of forest fire in the past.

Other analysis consisted of quantifying the amount of forest edge in the region to evaluate forest fragmentation. Additional threats due to future urban expansion and population density are being analyzed, producing supporting end-products for the end-users. The Slope, Land cover, Exclusion, Urbanization, Transportation and Hillshade (SLEUTH) Model will be implemented to analyze potential future urban expansion in the CHT region.åÊ These analyses will help display where human growth can occur, which will help decision-makers prioritize protection due to a number of factors that are affecting the natural Chittagong Hill Tract environment.

Return to the Summer 2013 VPS page.