Land use and cover change scenarios in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor-Chiapas, México
Background. Human impact over natural ecosystems located in Southern Mexico is increasingly evident. We generated a spatially explicit land use and cover change (LUCC) model to assess current and potential impact of human activities and to identify the influence of variables such as: distance to paved and unpaved roads, human settlements, rivers, slope and protected areas.
Study site. Mesoamerican Biological Corridor located in the state of Chiapas (MBC-Ch), Mexico.
Methods. We calibrated a model for the period 1993-2002 and ran a simulation for 2007 which we compared against the real 2007 land use and cover map to evaluate model’s performance. We then projected LUCC to 2030 under three different scenarios: 1) Agriculture and Livestock (AGL), 2) Business As Usual (BAU) and, 3) Conservation (CON).
Results. Proximity to roads and settlements increased deforestation probabilities whereas the presence of natural protected areas had the opposite effect. The AGL scenario predicted a reduction of 43 % and 41 % in the extent of closed tropical and temperate forests, respectively. In comparison, the BAU scenario predicted a reduction of 19.5 % in the area covered by closed tropical forest and of 30.1 % in temperate forests. The extent of land destined to farming and forestry increased by 22 % and 15 % in the AGL and BAU scenarios, respectively. In contrast, the CON scenario predicted slight changes in the landscape.
Conclusions. Our simulations indicate that it is highly probable to see a marked decay in the extent (and likely integrity) of natural habitats in the MBC-Ch region if a comprehensive series of management actions are not urgently implemented.
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