From Primary Forest to African Oil Palm: Complex Land Use and Cover Trajectories in the Northern Choco Bioregion of Colombia.

Authors: Carolina Santos*, , Joseph Messina, Michigan State University
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: Land use modeling, African oil palm, agricultural expansion, land tenure
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Buchanan, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Worldwide demand of African oil palm is driving the expansion of the crop making it the fastest growing monoculture in tropical regions. Colombia is the fourth larger producer of palm oil in the world. Over the years Colombian development programs have proposed African oil palm first as an alternative for coca production and at present as a suitable crop for poverty alleviation. In the Chocó region in Northwestern Colombia the land transformation from primary forest to African Palm, began in 1997 and is the result of endogenous and exogenous factors. African oil palm plantations thrived under the civil conflict in association with a phenomenon of violence that includes: displacement, dispossession, money laundry, and territorial control. This research combined a remote sensing based methodology to monitor LUCC in the region with an analytical approach for evaluating the possible trajectories of LUCC in a complex biological, socio-economical, and political environment. LUCC models along with empirical social and spatial biophysical drivers were used to project historical land use trajectories. The results show that under the current socio-political conditions African oil palm plantations will continue to expand toward forested areas into territories traditionally inhabited by Afro-Colombians and Indigenous populations. The links between armed conflict, drug traffic and land tenure are analyzed as land tenure appears as a main driver of the transformation. This study contributes towards the understanding of LULC in the context of social conflict; issues of governance, land tenure and drug traffic need to be included in modeling efforts in Latin America.

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