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Remote Sens Appl ; 23: 100557, 2021 Aug.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-36568404


Law enforcement and massive media awareness, limiting the anthropogenic disturbance, is the way to go for implementing successful desert native vegetation recovery plans. A lesson learned on the resiliency of desert ecosystems throughout studying the native vegetation coverage in the Wadi Al-Batin desert ecosystem during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wadi Al-Batin tri-state desert (89,315 km2) covers the South-western part of Iraq, State of Kuwait, and the North-eastern part of Saudi Arabia. In this study, the spatiotemporal changes in vegetation coverage was detected, by using Sentinel-2A imageries, during the period from 2017 to 2020. For better understanding the impact of associated law enforcement and media practices during COVID-19 pandemic, native vegetation coverage of years with relevant rainfall records were compared. The results revealed that despite receiving the least amount of rain of the three years (≤93 mm), the COVID-19 year (2020) had the highest native vegetation coverage at 28.5% compared with 6% in 2017, and 2% in 2018. These results prove that the main drivers of desert vegetation deterioration are anthropogenic activities, such as quarrying, overgrazing, distractive camping, and off-road vehicle movements. Moreover, the estimated 63% vegetation coverage in Wadi Al-Batin desert in 2019 assures the significant role of precipitation in desert vegetation recovery. This bulk increase in vegetation coverage detected during COVID-19 pandemic shows that the desert vegetation adapts to harsh environments (low rainfall) and rapidly recovers once the source of the disturbance was removed by enforcing the environmental rules. Thus, the protection of natural resources and ecosystems can be achieved through the synergy between governments and civil communities, including intensive awareness of environmental impacts via media, enforcing environmental regulations, and promoting regional collaboration.