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Extensification of Agricultural Land-Use Generates Severe Effects on the Critically Endangered Inter-Andean Dry Forest in the Ecuadorian Andean Landscape

Authors
  • Rodríguez-Echeverry, James
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Landscape Ecology
Publisher
De Gruyter Open Sp. z o.o.
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2023
Volume
16
Issue
3
Pages
132–148
Identifiers
DOI: 10.2478/jlecol-2023-0020
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

The Inter-Andean Dry Forest is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The extensification of anthropogenic land-use has transformed the Inter-Andean Dry Forest in the landscape of the Rio Chota watershed, Ecuador. However, there is no evaluation of the land use/land cover dynamics to determine the loss and recovery of this ecosystem. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of the extensification of agricultural land-use on the spatial pattern of the Inter-Andean Dry Forest ecosystem and the state of the landscape in the RCW during the periods 1991–2000 and 2000–2017. The effects of land-use change on the spatial pattern of the Inter-Andean Dry Forest were evaluated at the landscape level using satellite images and landscape metrics. The loss of the Inter-Andean Dry Forest was 45 % from 1991 to 2017, at a deforestation rate of 2.3 % per year. The largest loss of forest (42.7 %) occurred from 2000 to 2017. From 1991 to 2000, the number of patches of Inter-Andean Dry Forest increased by 194 % but decreased by 64 % in 2017. Over the entire study period, the major change in the landscape was the conversion of the Inter-Andean Dry Forest to agriculture (36.7 %), which was related to important changes in the spatial patterns of this ecosystem. Inter-Andean Dry Forest loss and fragmentation were associated with the extensification of agricultural land-use. The Rio Chota watershed is a landscape increasingly transformed by human processes. This study provides baseline information on landscape structure and composition. This information could help make management decisions for the Inter-Andean Dry Forest in specific landscape areas.

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