Landslides and vegetation cover in the 2005 North Pakistan earthquake: a GIS and statistical quantitative approach
- UNEP/GRID-Europe, Switzerland
- Institute of Geomatics and Risk Analysis (IGAR), University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Abstract. The growing concern for loss of services once provided by natural ecosystems is getting increasing attention. However, the accelerating rate of natural resources destruction calls for rapid and global action. With often very limited budgets, environmental agencies and NGOs need cost-efficient ways to quickly convince decision-makers that sound management of natural resources can help to protect human lives and their welfare. The methodology described in this paper, is based on geospatial and statistical analysis, involving simple Geographical Information System (GIS) and remote sensing algorithms. It is based on free or very low-cost data. It aims to scientifically assess the potential role of vegetation in mitigating landslides triggered by earthquakes by normalising for other factors such as slopes and distance from active fault. The methodology was applied to the 2005 North Pakistan/India earthquake which generated a large number of victims and hundreds of landslides. The study shows that if slopes and proximity from active fault are the main susceptibility factors for post landslides triggered by earthquakes in this area, the results clearly revealed that areas covered by denser vegetation suffered less and smaller landslides than areas with thinner (or devoid of) vegetation cover. Short distance from roads/trails and rivers also proved to be pertinent factors in increasing landslides susceptibility. This project is a component of a wider initiative involving the Global Resource Information Database Europe from the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Institute of Geomatics and Risk Analysis from the University of Lausanne and the "institut universitaire d'études du développement" from the University of Geneva.