Patterns and trends of forest loss in the Colombian Guyana

Nelly Rodríguez, Dolors Armenteras, Roberto Molowny-Horas, Javier Retana

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial patterns of tropical deforestation and fragmentation are conditional upon human settlement characteristics. We analyze four different human occupation models (indigenous, colonist frontier, transition and established settlement) in the Colombian Guyana Shield at three different times: 1985, 1992 and 2002, and compared them for: (1) deforestation rates; (2) the amount of forest as classified according to a fragmentation pattern (interior forest, edge forest, perforated forest and forest patch); (3) various fragmentation metrics using repeated measures analysis of variance; and (4) potential future deforestation trends though the implementation of a spatially explicit simulation model. The indigenous and colonist frontier occupation models had low rates of deforestation (0.04%/yr), while the well-established settlement occupation model had the highest rate (3.68%/yr). Our results indicate that the four occupation models generate three deforestation patterns: diffuse, which can be subdivided into two subpatterns (indigenous and colonist), geometric (transition) and patchy (established settlement). The area with the established settlement model was highly fragmented, while in the transition occupation area, forest loss was gradual and linked to economic activities associated with the expansion of the agricultural frontier. The simulation of future trends revealed that indigenous and colonist areas had a constant, albeit small, loss of forest covers. The other models had a deforestation probability of 0.8 or more. Overall, our results highlight the need for new and urgent policies for reducing forest conversion that consider intraregional variability in human occupation linked to differences in land-use patterns. © 2011 The Author(s) Journal compilation © 2011 Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-132
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Deforestation patterns
  • Regional variability
  • Spatial configuration
  • Temporal change
  • Tropical rain forest


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