Mountainous vegetation in general, and especially in subpolar regions, is sensitive, compared to vegetation in lowland areas, as mountainous vegetation has low resilience and low productivity. Mountainous areas have been perceived as being sensitive to mechanical damage. Quick methods with a high degree of accuracy are needed for the monitoring of mountainous areas and for planning the sustainable use of resources. The aim was i) to investigate if the dry dwarf shrub heath on hummocky moraine in the southern part of the mountains with a maritime climate and in open areas used for summer grazing, is susceptible to change; and ii) to test if high-resolution IKONOS-2 satellite data can, with a high degree of accuracy, be used for detection, and for quantification and mapping of erosion patches in montane vegetation. In which case, these data can substitute color infrared aerial photos for the early detection of changes. For the detection of changes, visual interpretations on high-quality printouts of IKONOS-2 satellite images from 2000 and of color infrared aerial photographs from 1975 were carried out and the results compared. Interpretations were verified in the field. The results show that for the period 1975–2000, erosion was in process on and around wind heaths, indicating that the wind heath and surrounding dry dwarf shrub heath in this landscape type of hummocky moraine are sensitive to mechanical damage by trampling and grazing, and thus susceptible to change. Most of the wind heaths and changes found were small (50–1000 m2). The results show that it is possible to detect, with good accuracy, detailed changes in the size and distribution of erosion patches and wind heaths by visual interpretation in single images of IKONOS-2 data. This implies that for monitoring these kinds of changes, these high-resolution (4 × 4 m pixel resolution) satellite data can substitute for color infrared aerial photographs.
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