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Using GIS to measure changes in the temporal and spatial dynamics of forestland: experiences from north-west Spain

Marey Perez, M.F., Rodríguez Vicente, V., Crecente Maseda, R.
Forestry 2006 v.79 no.4 pp. 409-423
forests, measurement, tree and stand measurements, geographic information systems, land use, forest management, land tenure, sociodemographic characteristics, forest fires, spatial data, forest ownership, population dynamics, population density, population distribution, statistical analysis, simulation models, temporal variation, computer software, Spain
Forestry variables are usually calculated at a forest management unit scale. However, a region's forestry sector is affected by various other factors that interact over space and time, many of which are not directly associated to silvicultural activities but nonetheless play an important part in its development from a socio-economic or environmental point of view. To understand a region's forestry dynamics, and especially to predict its future tendencies, we must include all the necessary variables in a single database, calculated for spatial units that are stable over time and adequate for planning purposes. In our study, we developed a Forest Geographic Information System for Galicia called 'SIFGa'. We used it to examine 310 variables describing the environment, population tendencies, land tenure and forest management in the Spanish autonomous region of Galicia, at both council and parish levels. Results reveal the connections between our variables, which reflect the changes the regional forestry sector has experienced in the past, and explain its current situation. They also confirm the heterogeneity of forestry in the area and the need to adapt forest-planning strategies to each study unit, as well as to the entire region.