Amazon deforestation: Rates and patterns of land cover change and fragmentation in Pando, northern Bolivia, 1986 to 2005
Much research has focused on deforestation in the Amazon, particularly with proximity to roads and population centers as proximate causes. This research presents the analysis of rates and patterns of land cover change in Pando, northern Bolivia, an area with most of its tropical humid forest still intact. Using a decision tree classifier, five forest/non-forest (FNF) classifications were created for 1986, 1991, 1996, 2000, and 2005 from 40 Landsat images that were preprocessed and mosaicked. FNF trajectory images were created for each date pair to indicate areas of stable forest and non-forest, and areas and rates of de/reforestation. Mean patch size, perimeter-area ratio, fractal dimension, and aggregation index metrics were calculated for the FNF trajectory images based on increasing buffer distances from road and along the main access road. In 2005, forest covered 95% of the area in Pando. Large areas of aggregated deforestation occur nearest the department capital of Cobija, along the border with Brazil, and about 50 km west and east of Cobija along the principal access road. Deforestation becomes patchier with increased distance from the population center and laterally from the road. Multiple non-linear relationships exist between the fragmentation metrics and distance from road. The results have implications for understanding and managing the spatial contiguity of these forests, which provide valuable ecological services as well as the livelihood base for many inhabitants.