Detecting the extent of mining in a global biodiversity and conflict hotspot

Authors: Dohyung Kim*, Office of Innovation, UNICEF, Anupam Anand, GEF
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Remote Sensing, Environmental Science
Keywords: mining, land cover, remote sensing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Coolidge, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Mining is one of the largest causes of environmental degradation. Mining leads to environmental degradation such as forest loss, habitat fragmentation and has serious health implications. Chemical and heavy metals such as mercury used in mining activities are transported across various food webs having serious health implications. To balance economic development with environmental and health considerations, it is important to know the extent of mining. It is challenging to measure the extent of mining because of isolation, and safety issues. However, the use of remotely sensed data can help in determining the spatial and temporal changes in the mining areas. It is difficult to assess the damage driven by mining activities as most of the mining is illegal. In this paper, we discuss an innovative way to detect mining in Choco, Colombia. The Choco is a unique biogeographic region, a global biodiversity hotspot with 78% forest cover. It has seen rapid environmental degradation due to illegal mining over the last few decades. This is exacerbated by the fact that Choco is also the poorest region in Colombia and has also been a conflict area. We use remotely sensed data and advanced classification techniques to quantify the extent of mining in the region. The study can be replicated for other areas and would be useful for policy makers and law enforcement to track the extent and location of illegal mining.

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