Dynamics of Change in the Maya Forest

Authors: Shiguo Jiang*, SUNY - Albany, Joel D. Wainwright, The Ohio State University, Desheng Liu, The Ohio State University, Kristin Mercer, The Ohio State University, Henry A. Peller, The Ohio State University, Peter C. Esselman, United States Geological Survey, David G. Buck, University of New Hampshire
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: Maya, forest change, shifting cultivation, remote sensing, land use land cover change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Belize is the home to some of the remaining Maya areas. This study focus on several Maya villages in Southern Belize, where customary shifting cultivation and non-customary farming are practiced. Previous studies on Maya forest have explored the use of remote sensing images, which provided a good start for examining the changing land cover. However, those studies overestimated deforestation as they failed to consider reforestation and phenological effect. This project tried to provide a more accurate estimation of forest change by using remote sensing images from the same season (a ten-week window between March and May) during 1975-2017 and nearly yearly images during 1993-2001. We found two different forest change patterns. In the area where customary farming is practiced, the percentage of forest cover is relatively stable during the past four decades. The fallow period of shifting cultivation is about 8 years, which is verified by our fieldwork and is also consistent with data from previous land pressure surveys (1983/1984). On the contrary, the non-customary farming area experienced great deforestation during the same period. (Note: The slides and related papers can be downloaded at: https://www.albany.edu/spatial/publications/maya-forest)

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