The aim of this study was to quantify the spatio-temporal changes in land use/ cover (LULC), as well as analyze landscape patterns over a 20-year period (1995 - 2015) in the Catolé watershed, northern Minas Gerais State, using landscape metrics. The LULC maps were obtained using Landsat 5 and 8 data (Processing level 1) through supervised classification using the maximum likelihood classifier. Seven thematic classes were identified: dense vegetation, sparse vegetation, riparian vegetation, cropland, planted forest, bare soil, and water. From the LULC maps, classes related to the natural landscape (dense, sparse, and riparian vegetation) were grouped into forest patches, which was then ordered by size: very small (< 5 ha); small (5 - 10 ha); medium (10 - 100 ha); large (100 ha); and a general class (no distinction of patch size). Then, metrics of area, size and density, edge, shape, proximity and core area were calculated. The dense vegetation portion of the study area decreased considerably within a given time, while the portion of cropland and bare soil increased. Overall, in the Catolé river basin, the total area of natural vegetation decreased by 3,273 hectares (4.62%). Landscape metrics analysis exhibited a reduction in the number of very small patches, although the study area was still considered as fragmented. Moreover, a maximum edge distance of 50 m is suggested for conducting studies involving core area metrics in the Catolé watershed, as values above this distance would eliminate the very small patches.
Land use/ cover; Landscape metrics; Forest patches