Deforestation and Reforestation of Latin America and the Caribbean (2001–2010)

Deforestation and Reforestation of Latin America and the Caribbean (2001–2010)


This study examines contrasting forest cover change dynamics in Latin America and the Caribbean using MODIS satellite imagery. Many studies have documented deforestation, while others report forest recovery. This study seeks to analyze these trends on a large scale and connect them to environmental and population variables.

Research goals & methods

The study uses MODIS satellite imagery for the period 2001-2010 to analyze vegetation change. Municipality-level population change data was acquired through census information and the Random Forests regression was applied to determine which variables explained land cover change. This data was then analyzed across biome type to determine biome-level differences.

conclusions & takeaways

The study found a net gain in woody vegetation in the Caribbean and Central America and a net loss in South America. More than 40% of the net gains were in desert or xeric/shrub biomes, as well as montane forests, savannahs, and dry forest ecosystems. The regression analysis determined that environmental rather than demographic variables best explained the land cover changes.


T. Aide M, Clark ML, H. Grau R, et al. Deforestation and Reforestation of Latin America and the Caribbean (2001-2010). Biotropica. 2012;45:262–271. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2012.00908.x.


  • Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, U.S.A.
  • Department of Geography and Global Studies, Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Analysis, Sonoma State University, CA, U.S.A.
  • CONICET, Instituto de Ecologı´a Regional, Universidad Nacional de Tucuma´ n, Yerba Buena, Tucuma´n, Argentina
  • Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, U.S.A.
  • Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Earth Institute, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, U.S.A.
  • Red de Ambiente y Sustentabilidad, Instituto de Ecologı´a, A.C. Carretera antigua a Coatepec, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico