The need for accurate and compatible historical land cover datasets is increasing due to the growing interest in the drivers and impacts of landscape changes. In this article, we present a framework that uses readily available data to develop historical land cover timelines over large areas with fine resolution. We applied this framework to a 10,000-km2 area around Little Rock, Arkansas (USA) to document land cover changes at 60 m resolution from 1857 to 2006. First, we improved the earliest available maps of the region (1857) and digitized the first available aerial photographs (1943). We then modified the first national land cover dataset (GIRAS, 1975) to make it compatible with the contemporary national land cover database (1994-2006). These modifications increased the overall mapping accuracy of GIRAS from 66.5% to 77.8%, mainly by improving its resolution so that small, heterogeneous land cover patches were
represented. Finally, we used our newly created fine-resolution land cover timeline to characterize major transitions in central Arkansas, which over a 149 y period was converted from a forest- and wetland-dominated landscape to an urban- and agriculture-dominated landscape. By applying our framework to other regions, researchers can begin to understand the drivers and impacts of land cover changes.
Jawarneh RN, Julian JP. 2012. Development of an accurate fine-resolution land cover timeline: Little Rock, Arkansas, USA (1857 – 2006). Applied Geography 35: 104-113.