Spatially, changes in landscape of the Cameron Highlands are constantly dynamic. The changes are less than 5 % across the study period. Table 13.4 shows the landscape metric patterns in years 2000, 2005, and 2010, respectively. The total number of forest fragments slightly decreased from 1.8474 in 2000 to 1.666 in 2005, and then increased to 2.0177 in 2010. Areas of reforestation were significantly larger than areas of deforestation, across all dates. Patch size was a good indicator of economic activity.
PLAND is increased for tea plantation and water body from 10 % to 11 % and from 0.12 % to 0.35 %, respectively. Mixed agriculture, residential use, and roads decreased over the years (from 23 % in 2000 to 20 % in 2010). CA and PLAND are good indicators of landscape composition. PLAND is an important characteristic in a number of ecological applications. Both metrics have the same characteristic when spatial extent does not change or is opposite. These indices relate to numbers/ total areas for land use and cover (LULC) classes. NP defined total patches for every class, and the major patch value in the study is from mixed secondary forest and shrubs, being about 1,802. These patch numbers depend on the pixel/window size from satellite image resolution. In the study, a low patch number is exhibited by the water body class (ten patches only). The highest PD shown in the study was by secondary forest and shrubs, ranging from 4.8 to 6.6. LPI measures the largest patch of landscape fragmentation in percentage values, and the largest patches shown in this study was primary forest class (40). As the performance of LPI is generally not sensitive to varying spatial aggregation, this index can serve for landscape composition but is not suitable for indication of fragmentation.
This research provides evidence for the usefulness of multitemporal remote sensing approaches and landscape metrics to monitor the rate of loss and pattern of fragmentation in the tropical mountain forest of Cameron Highlands. It can be concluded that, in general, changes in land use occurred over the study period. Increase in the number of forest patches was above 2 % between year 2000 and 2010, and substantial decrease was shown in the mixed agriculture/residential/road patch: the latter finding indicates improvement in forest sucession in Cameron Highlands. The positive trends in forest cover changes and expansion provide some evidence of the ecological sustainability of the area. The decreasing number of patches, from 23 % to 21 % in mixed agriculture/residential/road during the study period has, however, raised some questions regarding the agricultural practices in the highland, although this study has provided important insights into the dynamics of land cover in a forested area and other major land uses of Cameron Highands. Quantitatve information from this study reinforces understanding of the relationship between goverment policies and forest conditions. It is urgent to define a political attitude and conservation plan that minimizes landscape degradation in the near future in the Cameron Highlands. This study was only a preliminary step toward understanding the landscape and properties of the Cameron Highlands environment. Land use planning in the highland should be prepared in accordance with a protection strategy. Adaptation of the protection strategy to this area requires certain, urgent, and short-term measures for protection of the precious landscape and biodiversity. Any changes in land use types that can result in irreversible changes should be kept under control by a responsible authority. Further studies are needed to improve scientific knowledge in developing sustainable agriculture and tourism development strategies in Cameron Highlands, as well as the ability to quantify the biogeochemical and hydrological processes changes resulting from landscape changes in the highlands. The use of multitemporal remotely sensed data to conduct landscape trends analysis represents an exciting opportunity, not only to conduct change detection analysis but also to advance the disciplines of both landscape ecology and remote sensing in a spatial context.
Acknowledgments We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia through Fundamental Research Grant Scheme FRGS-5523434 and Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency for providing satellite data (SPOT 5).