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Deforestation and secondary growth in Costa Rica along the path of development

Stan, Kayla, Sanchez-Azofeifa, Arturo
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.2 pp. 587-597
climate change, deforestation, forest maps, forests, globalization, landscapes, model validation, models, politics, socioeconomic factors, tropics, Costa Rica
Over the past 50 years, Costa Rica has experienced extensive landscape changes. It is, therefore, important to understand the historical changes that have occurred and how the forests will change in the future, which provides the objective of this study. To determine the historical deforestation trends and link them to the different biogeophysical and socioeconomic variables, forest maps from 1960 to 2013 were used in the Dinamica Environment for Geoprocessing Objects (Dinamica EGO) to create deforestation models for Costa Rica. The base model was built and analyzed for changes in landscape metrics such as patch size and distance between 1960 and 2013. After validation of the model’s ability to replicate patterns, the landscape change was then projected to 2069. The historical model validated at 85% accuracy within 600 m for both the 2005–2013 and 1997–2005 iterations. All national future projections exhibited an increase in forest area, including the most extreme deforestation scenarios. Future projections are increasingly important given changes in the global socio-political structure, climatic change, and the ever-increasing globalization of capitalistic endeavors. The trajectory of the forest in Costa Rica can also serve as a way to track both these global pressures on the natural landscape, and as a proxy for how to manage deforestation in other similar political and geographic areas of the tropics.