A W F Projects   |   Prof. Dr. Christoph Kleinn - Dr. Hans Fuchs
Land Cover Change Assessment in Catchments of the Lower Mekong Basin


Since 1950, the riparian countries of the Mekong River have undergone a dynamic change in land-use. Extensive areas of forest have been logged and cleared for agriculture.
Hamilton (1987) emphasizes the role of scale in measuring the impacts of land-use practices. They can be classified into three categories based on the affected area: local level, medium level and macro level. Impacts occur at the local scale in the area where land-use takes place, caused e.g. by soil erosion, new fallow zones or areas showing declines in soil fertility and productivity. Impacts at the medium or macro scale are e.g. sedimentation and siltation of riverbeds, reservoirs and irrigation systems, frequency of low flows and floods, deposition of chemical residues in rivers and lakes. These last-mentioned impacts are more difficult and complex to manage.
There are only few empirical studies on the relationship between the removal of forest and land-use changes regarding water yield (low flows, floods), soil erosion, sedimentation and nutrient load of streams within the geographical context of the Lower Mekong Basin. Quantitative information is needed to support decisions in watershed management which includes management of all natural resources within a watershed for the protection and production of water resources while maintaining environmental stability.

 Objectives In the framework of two master theses a time series of land cover changes from the 1950s to 2000 will be processed and analysed for the Nam Ton Pilot catchment in Laos PDR using remote sensing and GIS. The following materials are available at MRCS: Landsat TM and ETM+ images, SPOT images, aerial photos: 1:20,000 and 1:50,000 scale.

 Working Plan Nov. 2004 - Jan. 2005: Image processing and field work in Lao PDR.

Feb. 2005 - Aug. 2005: Statistical analysis and final reports.


Cleemput, S., and Kleinn, C. 2004. The influences of logging on the hydrology balance of forests: a first literature review. Draft for GTZ / MRC. 14 p.

Fuchs, H.-J. 2004: Data situation for studies on effects of land-cover changes on water yield, sediment and nutrient load at catchments of the Lower Mekong Basin. Technical report for GTZ / MRC. 28 p + Annex.


Bruijnzeel, L. 1990. Hydrology of moist tropical forests and effects of conversion: a state of knowledge review. Faculty of Earth Sciences, Free University Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Hamilton, L. 1987. What are the impacts of Himalayan deforestation on the Ganges-Brahmaputra lowlands and delta? Assumptions and facts. Mountain Research and Development 7: 256-263.

Internet pages: http://www.mrcmekong.org/


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Eschborn


Prof. Dr. Christoph Kleinn
Institut für Waldinventur und Waldwachstum
Büsgenweg 5
37077 Göttingen
Tel. +49 551 39 3472

 Participating Scientists

Prof. Dr. Christoph Kleinn
Dr. Hans-Jörg Fuchs


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Eschborn

 Time Frame

November 2004 – August 2005