Anthropogenic industrial dust decreases productivity and slows down the growth of plants. Quantifying the effects of industrial dust on vegetation and determining the distance over which factories scatter dust are of paramount importance for biodiversity conservation and sustaining ecosystem services. This study aims at quantifying the effect of dust emitted by the Neka cement plant (NCP), Mazandaran province, northern Iran, on the surrounding Hyrcanian forests based on an analysis of the Leaf Area Index (LAI) retrieved from Sentinel-2 imagery. An Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) was used to quantify the concentrations of cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), silicon (Si) and zinc (Zn) in leaves of the dominant Chestnut-leaved Oak (Quercus castaneifolia). A feed-forward neural network algorithm and field measurements were used to retrieve the leaf area index (LAI) from Sentinel-2 data with a RMSE of 0.42 (m2/m2). MODIS-NDVI and EVI time series spanning 17 years (2000 to 2017) were analysed to ensure the independence of the variation in the condition of the vegetation from drought or other environmental factors. The results indicate that Sentinel-2 data can be used to map degradation due to pollution from the cement plant and quantify the effect of the dust spatially. Dust from the cement plant (dust source) was carried approximately 4700 meters in the direction of the prevailing wind. A significant correlation of 0.849 was recorded between LAI and distance from the NCP. It is concluded that dust from the NCP had adverse ecological effects on the neighbouring forest ecosystems recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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- BPNN parameter retrival
- Drought analysis
- Hyrcanian forest
- Industrial dust
- Leaf area index (LAI)