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Land use scenarios: a communication tool with local communities

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Part of the Environmental Science and Engineering book series (ESE)

Abstract

The municipality of La Huacana in the Mexican state of Michoacàn, is currently undergoing a process of intense land use change, which has severe environmental repercussions. This dry tropical region has a high rate of population emigration leading to the abandonment of crop land, largely due to the low agricultural yields. At the same time small-estate holders are converting the forest cover to pasture. All of these topics have resulted in land degradation and increased water depletion, which are already some of the most severe problems in the region.

Landsat and ASTER images dated 2000, 2003 and 2006 were classified in order to generate land use/cover maps of the municipality. Then, we modeled land use/cover changes using DINAMICA, a spatially explicit model for land cover change modelling. The selection of the variables used to explain the land use/cover transitions was determined using the information obtained in a workshop carried out on the Rural Development Council Assembly along with a statistical analysis based upon the land use/cover changes maps for the period 2000-2003 derived from the remotely sensed data. The 2006 land use/cover map obtained through the model calibrated on 2000-2003 data was compared with the map derived from 2006 ASTER images analysis. This comparison showed a reasonable performance of the model. As the next step, the model was used to mimic three possible scenarios for 2015 that encompass a plausible range of future trajectories of deforestation. The first one assumes that 2000-2003 deforestation trends will continue, the “cattle” scenario assumes that deforestation rates will increase and finally the “sustainable” scenario assumes that the communities will implement protected areas and that deforestation due to cattle ranching will decrease.

The perspective of local inhabitants and authorities was useful to conceptualize the model. Showing the different scenarios to the community and local authorities could be a valuable tool for making future decisions and to become aware of the need to establish strategies to protect the community’s resources.

Keywords

land use change model scenarios local communities 

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