Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Document Type


Publication Date



Spatial and temporal changes in the land cover affect water quality in the streams and other water bodies. Stream riparian areas are increasingly relevant as the human modification of the landscape continue unabated. The objectives of this study were to: (1) determine the classes and the distribution of land cover in stream riparian areas; (2) examine the accuracy of the existing land cover data National Land Cover Database (NLCD) using high-resolution imagery NAIIP and LiDAR data; and (3) evaluate the integrity of forested riparian buffers areas in the Lower Savannah River basin. The land cover map was produced using a Support Vector Machine (SVM) algorithm supervised classification through the cloud-based Google Earth Engine platform with an overall accuracy assessment of 83.66%. LiDAR data analysis were implemented using ArcGIS 10.6. The result of this study demonstrates that LiDAR data can be used to accurately map the vegetation width, height and canopy cover within the riparian buffer over wide areas to support ecological-based management. It is also highlighted that the open-access imagery and the efficient geospatial analysis GEE provides a reliable methodology to remotely monitor forest cover and land use in the riparian buffer areas.