Assessment of invasive plant species, Opuntia spp.(prickly pear) in Raydah protected area, Aseer, Saudi Arabia.
Raydah protected area in an important declared protected area in Aseer area, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that is rich in biodiversity, and provides habitat for nine of the ten indigenous bird species in the kingdom. Invasive plant Opuntia spp. in Raydah could threaten the natural balance among the indigenous species and thereafter affect the biological components of the ecosystem. This study evaluates the prevalence of invasive species and vegetation cover trends in Raydah protected area to identify possible interventions to conserve and protect the protected area. The results provide important and necessary information for the conservation and management of the Raydah Area and the Aseer Area's south-western highlands. The study has demonstrated the potential of sentinel sensor for detection and mapping of invasive species such as Opuntia spp. with desirable accuracy. This encouraging result demonstrated the feasibility of developing a semi-automated process for mapping and analysing the distribution of Opuntia spp. and found better results compared to multispectral data with very high resolution. Assessment of the current situation of the Opuntia spp. in the protected area will provide scientific data base for future management plans to combat and control invasive plants and protect the protected area from their adverse effects.