The rapid assessment of the effectiveness of landscape protection in nature reserves is of great significance for the scientific formulation of protection and management countermeasures for nature reserves and is also an urgent problem to be solved for the construction and management of nature reserves in China. Using high-resolution remote sensing image data, this study analyzes the landscape dynamics in the Liancheng National Nature Reserve (LNNR) and their driving factors since the reserve’s promotion to the national level in 2005, and proposes a comprehensive evaluation method for the effectiveness of landscape protection in protected areas based on the Landscape Transfer Index (LTI), Protected Landscape Integrity Index (PLII), and Interfered Landscape Sprawl Index (ILSI).
Between 2006 and 2019, the area of protected landscape—namely woodland, grassland, and water—in the LNNR decreased, while the area of interfered landscape such as residential land, industrial and mining land, and water conservancy facility land increased. The LTI was − 0.14, and among the driving factors, the development of industry and mining, land use by indigenous inhabitants, and the development of the transport industry made the highest contribution to the landscape transfer tendency, being respectively 34.79%, 28.98%, and 17.30%. The PLII decreased from 82.7 to 68.7 and the ILSI increased from 26.61 to 26.68.
The effectiveness of landscape protection in the LNNR is low. Between 2006 and 2019, the overall quality of the landscape slightly decreased, the spatial pattern of the protected landscape became more fragmented, and the degree of human interference in the landscape increased; however, the scope of influence of human interference did not change significantly. These changes were mainly due to industrial and mining exploitation, land use by indigenous inhabitants, and road construction. However, despite the insignificant nature of these changes, they still require attention and timely remedial measures. The methodology proposed in this study may be applicable to the rapid assessment of the effectiveness of landscape conservation in various types of nature conservation sites around the world.