Canadian Forest Service Publications

Attributing changes in land cover using independent disturbance datasets: a case study of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. 2014. Mascorro, V.S.; Coops, N.C.; Kurz, W.A.; Olguín, M. Regional Environmental Change.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36200

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1007/s10113-014-0739-0

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Detailed observations of natural and anthropogenic disturbance events that impact forest structure and the distribution of carbon are essential to estimate changes in terrestrial carbon pools and the associated emissions and removals of greenhouse gasses. Recent advances in remote sensing approaches have resulted in annual and decadal estimates of land-cover change derived from observations using broad-scale moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) 250 m–1 km imagery. These land-use change estimates, however, are often not attributed directly to a cause or activity and are not well validated, especially in tropical areas. Knowledge of the type of disturbance that caused the observed land-cover changes is important, however, for the quantification of the associated impacts on ecosystem carbon stocks and fluxes. In this paper, we provide estimates of the amount of forest land-cover change in a Mexican forested region and propose an approach for attributing the cause of the observed changes to the underlying disturbance driver. To do so, we collate geospatial and remote sensing data from a variety of sources to summarize statistics about the major disturbances within the Yucatan Peninsula, an ‘‘early action’’ region for the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation, from 2005 to 2010. We combine the datasets to develop rules to estimate the likely disturbances that caused the observed land-cover changes based on their spatially explicit location. Finally, we compare our observed disturbance rates to those detected using classified land-cover data derived from MODIS.