Forest Cover and Deforestation Patterns in the Northern Andes (Lake Maracaibo Basin): A Synoptic Assessment using MODIS and Landsat Imagery
South America has the highest deforestation rates in the tropics. Yet, the science is often questioned when determining these rates. For example, Venezuela, which has the second highest rate in the region, produces government reports on deforestation that are continually questioned by third parties. This paper stresses the need for more accurate and consistent data on forest cover and greenhouse gase emissions from deforestation.
Goals & Methods
The study describes classification techniques and probability sampling of satellite imagery for estimating forest extent and deforestation in Lake Maracaibo Basin, presented as a novel means to evaluate land cover in the tropics.
Conclusions & Takeaways
The principal findings show a drastic decrease in forest cover as a result of anthropogenic agricultural and urban expansion and identify contrasting land cover patterns in Venezuela and Colombia. Current forest cover is 29,710 km2; 61% of forests belong to Venezuela and 39% to Colombia. Overall deforestation levels in the basin are low at 85% but high deforestation (<2.5%/y) was found in three sub-basins. This paper indicates that deforestation drivers in these regions can be attributed to agriculture, cattle ranching, and urban expansion, as well as the construction of roads and infrastructure for tourism.
Forest cover and deforestation patterns in the Northern Andes (Lake Maracaibo Basin): A synoptic assessment using MODIS and Landsat imagery. Applied Geography. 2012;35:152–163. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2012.06.015..
- Centro de Estudios Botánicos y Agroforestales, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Maracaibo, Venezuela
- Departamento de Biología, Facultad Experimental de Ciencias, La Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela