Land cover changes and fragmentation in mountain neotropical ecosystems of Oaxaca, Mexico under community forest management

Abstract

Changes in land cover have a direct impact on forest ecosystem goods and services. In this study, changes in land cover in Sierra de Juarez–Oaxaca ecosystems were estimated using a consistent processing of Landsat images and OBIA methodology. Additionally, landscape analyses using FRAGSTAT were conducted. In 2014, Sierra de Juarez–Oaxaca was covered by approximately 84% of forests, mainly pine-oak and cloud forests. After extensive deforestation until 2001, this trend was reversed and the forest cover surface area in 2014 was slightly higher than in 1979. The comparison of the landscape structure of the forested and agricultural lands suggests an increase in habitat heterogeneity. However, interspersion and juxtaposition indices, showing the patch shape by patch area and perimeter, were similar throughout the study period (1979–2014). Social and economic drivers can explain this situation: namely, community organization, forest enterprises, payment for ecosystem services programs, and changes of agricultural activity. Communities in the Sierra of Oaxaca have reforested degraded lands, created community forest enterprises, and preserved the forest under conservation schemes like those proposed by the Mexican payment for ecosystem services programs. However, their sustainable management faces internal challenges and has become highly dependent on political and institutional decisions beyond their control.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would also like to thank the Comunidad de Oaxaca, for field data and cartographic support, and The National Land Centre of Mexico and the survey department of CONABIO for providing aerial photographs and topographic sheets. Rafael M. Navarro-Cerrillo acknowledges the financial support of the University of Cordoba-Campus de Excelencia CEIA3. MMDS acknowledges the support in the research tasks of the Jean Monnet Networks Project No. 564651-EPP-1-2015-1-SK- EPPJMO-NETWORK “Sustainable Land Management Network”. Additionally, we thank all the community leaders and farmers in Oaxaca for their collaboration.

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Correspondence to Rafael Mª Navarro Cerrillo.

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Project funding: The work was supported by the COMET-LA project (FP7-Environment-ENV.2011.4.2.3-1-282845) of the European Community.

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Corresponding editor: Tao Xu.

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Navarro Cerrillo, R.M., Esteves Vieira, D.J., Ochoa-Gaona, S. et al. Land cover changes and fragmentation in mountain neotropical ecosystems of Oaxaca, Mexico under community forest management. J. For. Res. 30, 143–155 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11676-017-0568-3

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Keywords

  • Tropical and temperate forests
  • Social forestry
  • Land uses segmentation
  • OBIA
  • FRAGSTAT