Environmental Management

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 768–785 | Cite as

Land-Use Systems and Resilience of Tropical Rain Forests in the Tehuantepec Isthmus, Mexico

  • Arturo GarcÍa-Romero
  • Oralia Oropeza-Orozco
  • Leopoldo Galicia-Sarmiento


Land-cover types were analyzed for 1970, 1990 and 2000 as the bases for determining land-use systems and their influence on the resilience of tropical rain forests in the Tehuantepec Isthmus, Mexico. Deforestation (DR) and mean annual transformation rates were calculated from land-cover change data; thus, the classification of land-use change processes was determined according to their impact on resilience: a) Modification, including land-cover conservation and intensification, and b) Conversion, including disturbance and regeneration processes. Regeneration processes, from secondary vegetation under extensive use, cultivated vegetation under intensive use, and cultivated or induced vegetation under extensive use to mature or secondary vegetation, have high resilience capacity. In contrast, cattle-raising is characterized by rapid expansion, long-lasting change, and intense damages; thus, recent disturbance processes, which include the conversion to cattle-raising, provoke the downfall of the traditional agricultural system, and nullify the capacity of resilience of tropical rain forest. The land-use cover change processes reveal a) the existence of four land-use systems (forestry, extensive agriculture, extensive cattle-raising, and intensive uses) and b) a trend towards the replacement of agricultural and forestry systems by extensive cattle-raising, which was consolidated during 1990–2000 (DR of evergreen tropical rain forest = 4.6%). Only the forestry system, which is not subject to deforestation, but is affected by factors such as selective timber, extraction, firewood collection, grazing, or human-induced fire, is considered to have high resilience (2 years), compared to agriculture (2–10 years) or cattle-raising (nonresilient). It is concluded that the analysis of land-use systems is essential for understanding the implications of land-use cover dynamics on forest recovery and land degradation in tropical rain forests.


Land-use cover change Deforestation Resilience Tropical rain forest Tehuantepec Isthmus 

Literature Cited

  1. Apan, A. A., Peterson, J. A. 1998Probing tropical deforestation: the use of GIS and statistical analysis of georeferenced dataApplied Geography18137152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aguirre-Bravo, C., Rey, J. A. 1980Escorrentía y pérdida de suelo en asociaciones vegetales sujetas a quemas controladasRevista Chapingo23/241824Google Scholar
  3. Arroyo, G. (coord.). 1989. La pérdida de la autosuficiencia alimentaria y el auge de la ganadería en México. Plaza y Valdés, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  4. Barkin, D., and M. A. García. 1999. La construcción social de la deforestación en México: los incendios de 1998 en la selva tropical de los Chimalapas, globalización estado y actores sociales en México. Pages 55–102 in J. Flores and F. Novelo (eds.) Innovación industrial, desarrollo rural e integración international. UAM-X, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  5. Bastian, O., Röder, M. 1998Assessment of landscape change by land evaluation of past and present situationLandscape and Urban Planning41171182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coll-Hurtado, A. 2000. México: una visión geográfica. Temas selectos de la geografía Mexicana, no. II.1. Plaza y Valdés, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  7. Dirzo, R., García, M. 1992Rates of deforestation in Los Tuxtlas, a neotropical area in southeast MexicoConservation Biology68490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eberhardt, R. W., Foster, D. R., Motzkin, G., Hall, B. 2003Conservation of changing landscapes: vegetation and land use history of Cape Cod National seashoreEcological Applications136884CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ewel, J. 1980Tropical succession: manifold routes to maturityBiotropica1227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fearnside, P. M. 1993Deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: the effect of population and land tenureAmbio22/8537545Google Scholar
  11. Foster, D. R., Mutzkin, G., Slater, B. 1998Land use history as long-term broad-scale: regional forest dynamics in Central New EnglandEcosystems196119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. García-Gil, G. 1998La conservación de los paisajes en la selva Lacandona, ChiapasGeografía y Desarrollo165570Google Scholar
  13. García-Romero, A. 2003. Vegetación 2000, esc. 1:250,000. Atlas regional del Istmo de Tehuantepec, III.13. Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  14. García-Romero, A., and R. Alcocer. 2003. Vegetación 1970 y vegetación 1990, esc. 1:250,000. Atlas regional del Istmo de Tehuantepec, III.11 y III.12. Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  15. Gómez-Escobar, M. del C. 2003. Inmigración de las entidades federativas 1960–1990 y, 2000. Atlas regional del Istmo de Tehuantepec, IV.25 y IV.26. Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  16. Gómez-Pompa A., and F. W. Burley. 1991. The management of natural tropical forest. Pages 3–18. in A. Gómez-Pompa, T. C. Withmore, and M. Hadley (eds.) Rain forest regeneration and management. UNESCO–The Phathernon Publishing GroupGoogle Scholar
  17. Gragson, T. 1998

    Potential versus actual vegetation: human behavior in a landscape medium

    Balée, W. eds. Advances in historical ecologyColumbia UniversityNew York213231
    Google Scholar
  18. Helmut, H. J., Lambin, E. F. 2002Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestationBioScience52143151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hughes, R. F., Kauffman, J. B., Jaramillo, V. J. 1999Biomass, carbon, and nutrient dynamics of secondary forest in a humid tropical region of MexicoEcology8018921907Google Scholar
  20. INEGI. 1986. Usos del suelo y vegetación, Maps “Coatzacoalcos E15-7” and “Minatitlán E15-10,” Esc. 1:250,000. INEGI, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  21. INEGI. 1991. Sistema municipal de base de datos, VII Censo Agrícola Ganadero, 1991. Veracruz (www.inegi.gob.mx )
  22. Instituto de Geografía. 2000. Inventario nacional de recursos naturales, cubierta vegetal, maps: “Coatzacoalcos E15-7” and “Minatitlán E15-10,” Esc. 1:250,000. Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  23. ITC. 2001. Ilwis 3.0 academic user’s guide. ITC, EnschedeGoogle Scholar
  24. Jiménez, L. 1972. El Plan Puebla: un enfoque regional para aumentar la productividad agrícola. Pages 16–28 in Memoria del Coloquio sobre Planificación Regional. Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  25. Kelman, M. C. 1970. Secondary plant succession in tropical montano Mindanao. Publication BG/2, Australian National University, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  26. Kristensen, N. P., Gabric, A., Braddock, R., Cropp, R. 2003Is maximizing resilience compatible with established ecological goal functions?Ecological Modelling1696171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lambin, E. F., Turner, B. L., Geist, H. J., Agbola, S. B., Angelsen, A., Bruce, J. W., Coomes, O. T., Dirzo, R., Fischer, G., Folke, C., George, P. S., Homewood, K., Imbernon, J., Leemans, R., Li, X., Moran, E. F., Mortimore, M., Ramakrishnan, P. S., Richards, J. F., Skanes, H., Steffen, W., Stone, G. D., Svedin, U., Veldkamp, T. A., Vogel, C., Xu, J. 2001The causes of land-use and land-cover change: moving beyond the mythsGlobal Environmental Change11261269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lavorel, S. 1999Ecological diversity and resilience of Mediterranean vegetation to disturbanceDiversity and Distributions5313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lawrence, D., Peart, D., Laighton, M. 1998The impact of shifting cultivation on a rain forest landscape in West Kalimantan: spatial and temporal dynamicsLandscape Ecology13135148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Martínez-Laguna, N., Sánchez-Salazar, M. T., Casado, J. M. 2003Istmo de Tehuantepec: un espacio geoestratégico bajo la influencia de intereses nacionales y extranjeros. Éxitos y fracasos en la aplicación de políticas de desarrollo industrial (1820–2002)Investigaciones Geográficas49118135Google Scholar
  31. Masera, O., Ordóñez, M.J., Dirzo, R. 1997Carbon emissions from Mexican forests: current situation and long term scenariosClimate Change35256295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Maus, P. eds. 1996Guidelines for the use of digital imagery for vegetation mappingUSDAWashington, DCGoogle Scholar
  33. Mercer, D.E., Miller, R. P. 1998Socioeconomic research in agroforestry: progress, prospects, prioritiesAgroforestry Systems38177193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Moran, E. F., Brondizio, E. S., Trucker, J. M., Da Silva-Forsberg, M. C., McCracken, S., Falesi, I. 2000Effects of soil fertility and land-use on forest succession in AmazoniaForest Ecology and Management13993108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Myers N. 1991. Tropical deforestation: the latest situation. BioScience 44:292–296Google Scholar
  36. Nascimento, J. R. 1991Discutindo numeros do desmatamentoInteciencia16232239Google Scholar
  37. Nagashima, K., Sands, R., White, A. G. D., Bilek, E. M., Nakagoshi, N. 2002Regional landscape change as a consequence of plantation forestry expansion: an example in the Nelson region, New ZealandForest Ecology and Management163245261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nepstad, D., Uhl, C., Serrão, E. 1991Recuperation of a degraded Amazonian landscape: forest recovery and agricultural restorationAmbio20/6248255Google Scholar
  39. Ochoa, S., González, M. 2000Land-use and deforestation in the highlands of ChiapasApplied Geography201742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Oropeza, O. 2003Suelos. Atlas regional del Istmo de Tehuantepec, III.10Instituto de Geografía, UNAMMéxicoGoogle Scholar
  41. Ortiz, B., Toledo, V. 1998Tendencias de la deforestación de la selva Lacandona (Chiapas, México): el caso de Las CañadasInterciencia23/6318327Google Scholar
  42. Ortiz M. I. 2003a. Distribución de la población, 2000. Atlas regional del Istmo de Tehuantepec, IV.2. Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  43. Ortiz, M. I. 2003b. Población hablante de lenguas indígenas, 1995. Atlas regional del Istmo de Tehuantepec, IV.15. Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  44. Ortiz, M. A., and J. M. Figueroa. 2003. Unidades fisiográficas. Atlas regional del Istmo de Tehuantepec, III.6. Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  45. Pérez, R. 1987Agricultura y ganadería, competencia por el uso de la tierraEdiciones de Cultura PopularMéxicoGoogle Scholar
  46. Pimm, S. L. 1999

    The dynamics of the flows of matter and energy

    McGlade, J. eds. Advanced ecological theory, principles and applicationsBlackwell ScienceLondon172193
    CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ramírez, I. 2001Cambios en las coberturas del suelo en la sierra de Angangueo, Michoacán y Estado de México, 1971–1994–2000Investigaciones Geográficas453955Google Scholar
  48. Rebele, F. 1994Urban ecology and special features of urban ecosystemsGlobal Ecology and Biogeography Letters4173187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rodríguez, N. 1997. Istmo de Tehuantepec: de lo regional a la globalización (o apuntes para pensar en un quehacer). Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo/Instituto Nacional Indigenista (PNUD /INI), OaxacaGoogle Scholar
  50. Rykiel, E. J. 1985Towards a definition of ecological disturbanceAustralian Journal of Ecology10361365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rzedowski, J. 1988Vegetación de México LimusaMéxicoGoogle Scholar
  52. Sarukhán, J. 1988Árboles tropicales de MéxicoUNAM-FCEMéxicoGoogle Scholar
  53. Schmucki Blois, R. S., Bouchard, A. 2002Spatial and temporal dynamics of hedgerows in three agricultural landscapes of southern Quebec, CanadaEnvironmental Management30/5651664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Serrão, E., Nepstad, D., Walker, R. 1996Upland agricultural and forestry development in the Amazon: sustainability, criticality and resilienceEcological Economics18313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith, J. 2003Land-cover assessment of conservation and buffer zones in the Bosawas Natural Resource Reserve of NicaraguaEnvironmental Management31/2252262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Trejo, I., Dirzo, R. 2000Deforestation of seasonally dry tropical forest: a national and local analysis in MéxicoBiological Conservation94133142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Turner, II B. L., Cortina-Villar, S., Foster, D., Geoghegan, J., Keys, E., Kepleis, P., Lawrence, D., Mendoza, P. M., Manson, S., Ogneva-Himmelberger, Y., Plotkin, A. B., Pérez-Salicrup, D., Chowdhury, R. R., Savitsky, B., Schneider, L., Schmook, B., Vance, C. 2001Deforestation in the southern Yucatán peninsular region: an integrative approachForest Ecology and Management154353370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Uhl, C., Jordan, C. F. 1984Succession and nutrient dynamics following forest cutting and burning AmazoniaEcology6514761490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Vasconcelos, M. J. P., Musa-Biai, J. C., Araujo, A., Diniz, M. A. 2002Land cover change in two protected areas of Guinea-Bissau (1956-1998)Applied Geography22139156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Veldkamp, A., Lambin, E. F. 2001Predicting land-use changeAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment8516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Vitousek, P. M., Reiners, W. A., Melillo, J. M., Grier, C. C., Gosz, J. R. 1981

    Nitrogen cycling and loss following forest perturbation: the components of response

    Barret, G. W.and Rosenberg,  eds. Stress effects on natural ecosystemsJohn Wiley & SonsLondon115127
    Google Scholar
  62. Walker, R., Homma, A. K. O. 1996Land use and land cover dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon: an overviewEcological Economics186780CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arturo GarcÍa-Romero
    • 1
  • Oralia Oropeza-Orozco
    • 1
  • Leopoldo Galicia-Sarmiento
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Geografía FísicaInstituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCoyoacánMéxico

Personalised recommendations