Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, an area located in the Qinghai—Tibet Plateau, is an area very sensitive to global climate change. Due to impacts from climate change and human disturbances, grassland vegetation in the area has been degraded and desertification has been expanding. Ecosystems in the area are very sensitive and fragile and ecological problems have become increasingly serious in the area, resulting in an adverse effect on the local socio—economic development and environment of Qinghai province. Using data gathered from Landsat TM/ETM images for 1987, 1997 and 2007, we analyzed landscape patterns across Yushu Prefecture. Spatial structure indices indicated that: (i) the area of grassland has significantly decreased in the form of degradation and conversion from grassland into bare land and farmland; (ii) grassy vegetation patches changed into fragmented and isolated patches; (iii) the main landscapes in Yushu Prefecture are grasslands, forests and rivers; (iv) patches of grass have relatively high connectivity; and (v) landscape change is significantly correlated with human activities and climate change. This study provides a strong theoretical and technical basis for policy—making regarding environmental protection of and management in Yushu Prefecture of Qinghai Province.
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Vol. 2 • No. 2