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Comparative Spatial Analyses of Forest Conservation in Honduras and Guatemala

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Tucker, Catherine; Munroe, Darla; Nagendra, Harini; Southworth, Jane
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 3
Date: 2005
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3011
Sector: Theory
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): CIPEC
forestry--comparative analysis
forest products--tropics
environmental change--tropics
Abstract: "The degradation of dry tropical forests proceeds more rapidly than that of most moist tropical forests, but despite their importance for human populations as a source of products and environmental services, dry tropical forests rarely become the focus of conservation efforts. This study explores processes of land cover change in study sites in eastern Guatemala and western Honduras, where dry tropical forests have been declining with the introduction and expansion of export market crops, especially coffee. Through analyses of remotely sensed images, landscape metrics, and spatially explicit econometric modelling, the transformations occurring across these landscapes are examined and compared for the 1987-1996 period. The results show that the Guatemala region presents greater forest fragmentation, well-developed transportation networks and immigration in a context of strong linkages to coffee export markets. Net forest regrowth occurs in the Honduran region, while net deforestation occurs in the Guatemalan region. Spatially explicit models indicate that market accessibility and topography alone explain about 60% of the total variation in Honduras, but only 51% of the variation in Guatemala. Integration of social data collected through fieldwork indicates that a higher degree of community organisation to protect forests in Honduras is an important factor in the lower rate of forest transformation, as compared to Guatemala for the same time period. In both cases, there is a high degree of dynamism and apparent cyclical patterns in land cover change. These results suggest that attention to human and ecological cycles, as well as market, infrastructural and topographic factors can contribute to the development of effective approaches for the conservation of tropical dry forests."

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