Conservation and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The impacts of warfare, mining, and protected areas on deforestation

ArticleinBiological Conservation 191:266-273 · November 2015with 149 Reads
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Abstract
Tropical forests provide critical ecosystem services worldwide. Nonetheless, ongoing agricultural expansion, timber extraction, and mining continue to jeopardize important forest resources. In addition, many tropical forests reside in countries that have experienced violent conflict in recent decades, posing an additional, yet poorly understood threat. Conflict may decrease or increase deforestation depending on the relationship between conflict and other causes of land use change, such as mining expansion or protected area establishment. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), home of the second largest tropical forest in the world, has experienced 20. years of violent conflict, resulting in the death of over 100,000 combatants and up to 5 million civilians. Expanding mining concessions also threaten the DRC's forest, even though nearly 12% of it is under some form of protection. In this study, we used spatially-explicit data on conflict, mining, and protected areas, along with a host of control variables, to estimate the impacts of these factors on forest cover loss from 1990 to 2010. Through a panel instrumental variables approach we found that: i) conflict increased forest cover loss, ii) mining concessions increased forest cover loss, but in times of conflict this impact was lessened, and iii) protected areas reduced forest cover loss, even in high conflict regions. Our results thus suggest that policy interventions designed to reduce violent conflict may have the co-benefit of reducing deforestation, especially in areas with low mining potential. Likewise, protected areas can be effective even in times of war.
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    Full-text available at: http://rdcu.be/ErWC ___________________________________________________________________________ Large-mammal populations are ecological linchpins1, and their worldwide decline2 and extinction3 disrupts many ecosystem functions and services4. Reversing this trend requires understanding the determinants of population decline, to predict when and where collapses will occur and to guide effective, cost-efficient conservation and restoration policies2,5. Many correlates of large-mammal declines are known, including slow life histories, overhunting, and habitat destruction2,6,7. However, persistent uncertainty about the effects of one widespread factor—armed conflict—complicates conservation-planning and priority-setting efforts5,8. Case studies reveal that conflict can have either positive or negative local impacts on wildlife8–10, but the direction and magnitude of its net effect over large spatiotemporal scales have not previously been quantified5. Here we show that conflict frequency predicts the occurrence and severity of population declines among wild large herbivores in African protected areas from 1946–2010. Conflict was extensive during this interval, occurring in 71% of protected areas, and conflict frequency was the single most important predictor of wildlife population trends among the variables analyzed. Population trajectories were stable (λ≈1.0) in peacetime, fell significantly below replacement with only slight increases in conflict frequency (≥1 conflict-year every 2–5 decades), and were almost-invariably negative in high-conflict sites, both in the full 65-year dataset and in an analysis restricted to recent decades (1989–2010). Yet total population collapse was infrequent, indicating that war-torn faunas can often recover. Human population density was also correlated (positively) with wildlife population trajectories in recent years; however, we found no significant effect in either interval of species’ body mass, protected-area size, conflict intensity (i.e., human fatalities), drought frequency, presence of extractable mineral resources, or various metrics of development and governance. Our results suggest that sustained conservation activity in conflict zones—and rapid interventions following ceasefires—may help to save many at-risk populations and species.
  • Article
    Abstract Armed-conflicts often occur in tropical areas considered to be of high ‘conservation-value’, termed as such for their biodiversity or carbon-storage functions. Despite this important overlap, few studies have assessed how forest-biomass is affected by armed-conflicts. Thus, in this paper we develop a multinomial logit model to examine how outcomes of the interactions between carbon-storage, armed-conflict and deforestation rates are linked to social, institutional and economic factors. We use Colombia as a case study because of its protracted armed-conflict, high forest-cover, sustained deforestation rates and on-going peace processes. Our empirical results show that the impacts of armed-conflicts on forest-cover are connected to specific socio-economical processes, such as unequal land distribution and land-grabbing, which typically occurs as part of ‘agricultural colonization’. Findings address a research gap by providing statistically sound evidence for associations between armed-conflicts and land-related grievances, which has rarely been demonstrated empirically. Our results also suggest that forest commons are associated with reduced armed-conflict, and simultaneously provide contributions to carbon storage and to meeting basic needs. Moreover, our forest-conflict transition models provide useful visual means to capture and relay to policymakers-the causes of forest cover-changes in a conflict-affected country. Finally, our findings imply that in dedicating their efforts to resolving land-ownership disputes, the Colombian government might uphold their international climate change commitments via reducing deforestation and hence forest based carbon emissions, while pursuing their national security objective via undermining opportunities for guerrilla groups to operate.
  • Thesis
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    Many of the armed-conflicts in tropical regions occur in areas with high forest-cover. Generally, these areas are known for their physical potential to implement programs for forest carbon storage. Despite this important correlation, it remains uncertain what links, if any, exist between forest carbon biomass and armed conflicts. With this in mind, the present dissertation utilizes household-level surveys and data at the municipal-scale to assess potential for the integration of forest-carbon storage and peacebuilding efforts. Specifically, household surveys were used to identify factors explaining farmers’ propensity to adopt forest carbon conservation practices in situations of armed-conflicts. Meanwhile, data at the municipal-scale was used to: (1) investigate potential geographic overlaps between peacebuilding and forest carbon storage and peace building programs at national and regional levels; and (2) assess how joint outcomes of the interactions between ‘carbon-storage’, ‘armed-conflict’ and ‘deforestation rates’ are linked to social, institutional and economic factors. Our results indicate important local-level complementarities between peacebuilding and carbon storage programs. Results suggest high potential for adoption of REDD+ among conflict affected farmers and that peacebuilding efforts, such as land tenure programs, predispose farmers toward forest conservation. Nonetheless, deforestation is still present in the study area. Similarly, our results show potential national and regional level synergies between forest carbon storage and peacebuilding efforts. However, synergies would occur under specific contexts, such as regions where high conflict indicators geographically overlap with high content of forest carbon biomass as well as with high deforestation rates. Additionally, our results indicate conditions conducive to continued armed-conflict: competition for control of scarce resources (i.e. land); sites of grievances (i.e. agricultural colonization frontiers with forced migration due to land-access inequalities and violence); availability of high-value natural resources (i.e. outputs of illegal crop production) to finance agricultural colonization and guerrilla movements; and proximity to forested areas that might serve as cover for armed groups. Results also show that forest commons apparently reverse and reduce the causes of conflicts, and simultaneously provide contributions to carbon storage and to meeting local communities’ basic needs.
  • Article
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    I review the literature about the determinants of deforestation (with a focus on developing countries) and shows descriptive statistics of recent deforestation (2000-2012), using newly-released and globally available high resolution remote sensing data on forest loss. This allows to assess recent trends in order to discuss global policy choices and orient international conservation policies. I try to address the requirements for a cost-effective REDD+ policy , compensating trade losses in an open economy exporting agricultural commodities and endowed with tropical forests. I finally discuss the challenges of its implementation with a focus on additionality and the effects of international trade and global demand.
  • Article
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    Research into land and social-ecological systems science could benefit from improved clarity in the terminology used for causal analysis and a structured way to make causal inferences. Here I identify two aspects of causality, i.e. causal effects and causal mechanisms, and discuss explanation in historical sciences. I then propose definitions for the major terms used for causal relations, including driver, (spatial) determinant, location and contextual factor, proximate and underlying factors. Finally, I discuss the contribution of various operational approaches, including time series and counterfactual approaches for assessing causal effects and process-tracing approaches for establishing causal mechanisms. Having a coherent concept of causality, agreeing on a precise vocabulary and harnessing our tools with the clear purpose of establishing both causal effects and causal mechanisms should strengthen causal explanations for single cases, for drawing policy-relevant lessons and for theoretical development in relation to land and, more broadly, social-ecological systems processes.
  • Article
    There exist varying reports in the literature regarding the incidence of compartment syndrome (CS) after intramedullary (IM) fixation of pediatric forearm fractures. A retrospective review of the experience with this treatment modality at our institution was performed to elucidate the rate of postoperative CS and identify risk factors for developing this complication. In this retrospective case series, we reviewed the charts of all patients treated operatively for isolated radius and ulnar shaft fractures from 2000 to 2009 at our institution and identified 113 patients who underwent IM fixation of both-bone forearm fractures. There were 74 closed fractures and 39 open fractures including 31 grade I fractures, 7 grade II fractures, and 1 grade IIIA fracture. If the IM nail could not be passed easily across the fracture site, a small open approach was used to aid reduction. CS occurred in 3 of 113 patients (2.7%). CS occurred in 3 of 39 (7.7%) of the open fractures compared with none of 74 closed fractures (P=0.039), including 45 closed fractures that were treated within 24 hours of injury. An open reduction was performed in all of the open fractures and 38 (51.4%) of the closed fractures. Increased operative time was associated with developing CS postoperatively (168 vs. 77 min, P<0.001). CS occurred within the first 24 postoperative hours in all 3 cases. CS was an uncommon complication after IM fixation of pediatric diaphyseal forearm fractures in this retrospective case series. Open fractures and longer operative times were associated with developing CS after surgery. None of 45 patients who underwent IM nailing of closed fractures within 24 hours of injury developed CS; however, 51.4% of these patients required a small open approach to aid reduction and nail passage. We believe that utilizing a small open approach for reduction of one or both bones, thereby avoiding the soft-tissue trauma of multiple attempts to reduce the fracture and pass the nail, leads to decreased soft-tissue trauma and a lower rate of CS. We recommend a low threshold for converting to open reduction in cases where closed reduction is difficult.
  • Article
    We highlight the complexity of land-use/cover change and propose a framework for a more general understanding of the issue, with emphasis on tropical regions. The review summarizes recent estimates on changes in cropland, agricultural intensification, tropical deforestation, pasture expansion, and urbanization and identifies the still unmeasured land-cover changes. Climate-driven land-cover modifications interact with land-use changes. Land-use change is driven by synergetic factor combinations of resource scarcity leading to an increase in the pressure of production on resources, changing opportunities created by markets, outside policy intervention, loss of adaptive capacity, and changes in social organization and attitudes. The changes in ecosystem goods and services that result from land-use change feed back on the drivers of land-use change. A restricted set of dominant pathways of land-use change is identified. Land-use change can be understood using the concepts of complex adaptive systems and transitions. Integrated, place-based research on land-use/land-cover change requires a combination of the agent-based systems and narrative perspectives of understanding. We argue in this paper that a systematic analysis of local-scale land-use change studies, conducted over a range of timescales, helps to uncover general principles that provide an explanation and prediction of new land-use changes.
  • Article
    Rigorous, objective evaluation of forest conservation policies in developing countries is needed to ensure that the limited financial, human, and political resources devoted to these policies are put to good use. Yet such evaluations remain uncommon. Recent advances in conservation best practices, the widening availability of high-resolution remotely sensed forest-cover data, and the dissemination of geographic information system capacity have created significant opportunities to reverse this trend. This paper provides a nontechnical introduction and practical guide to a relatively low cost method that relies on remote sensing data to support ex post analysis of forest conservation policies. It describes the defining features of this approach, explains the broad empirical challenges to using it and the main strategies for meeting these challenges, catalogs the literature, discusses the requisite data, provides some practical guidance on modeling choices, and describes in detail two recent studies, (c) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Article
    Detailed knowledge of forest cover dynamics is crucial for many applications from resource management to ecosystem service assessments. Landsat data provides the necessary spatial, temporal and spectral detail to map and analyze forest cover and forest change processes. With the opening of the Landsat archive, new opportunities arise to monitor forest dynamics on regional to continental scales. In this study we analyzed changes in forest types, forest disturbances, and forest recovery for the Carpathian ecoregion in Eastern Europe. We generated a series of image composites at five year intervals between 1985 and 2010 and utilized a hybrid analysis strategy consisting of radiometric change classification, post-classification comparison and continuous index- and segment-based post-disturbance recovery assessment. For validation of the disturbance map we used a point-based accuracy assessment, and assessed the accuracy of our forest type maps using forest inventory data and statistically sampled ground truth data for 2010. Our Carpathian-wide disturbance map achieved an overall accuracy of 86% and the forest type maps up to 73% accuracy. While our results suggested a small net forest increase in the Carpathians, almost 20% of the forests experienced stand-replacing disturbances over the past 25 years. Forest recovery seemed to only partly counterbalance the widespread natural disturbances and clear-cutting activities. Disturbances were most widespread during the late 1980s and early 1990s, but some areas also exhibited extensive forest disturbances after 2000, especially in the Polish, Czech and Romanian Carpathians. Considerable shifts in forest composition occurred in the Carpathians, with disturbances increasingly affecting coniferous forests, and a relative decrease in coniferous and mixed forests. Both aspects are likely connected to an increased vulnerability of spruce plantations to pests and pathogens in the Carpathians. Overall, our results exemplify the highly dynamic nature of forest cover during times of socio-economic and institutional change, and highlight the value of the Landsat archive for monitoring these dynamics.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Socioeconomic shocks can shape future land-use trajectories. Armed conflicts are an extreme form of a socioeconomic shock, but our understanding of how armed conflicts affect land-use change is limited. Our goal was to assess land-use changes related to the 1991–1994 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus region. We classified multi-temporal Landsat imagery, mapped land-use changes during and after the conflict, and applied matching statistics to isolate the effect of the conflict from other potential drivers of land change. In our study area, local land-use changes were dominated by high farmland abandonment rates of more than 60 % in the conflict zone. Concomitantly, we found a substantial displacement of agricultural activities into nearby Azerbaijani territory (>30 % of all abandoned land in the conflict zone was offset by new agricultural areas on Azerbaijani territory), likely as a consequence of refugee migrations. After the armed conflict ceased, only 17 % of the abandoned fields were re-cultivated, indicating that the land-use system may have transformed profoundly. Our results showed that an armed conflict can have substantial impact on land use. Spatially, our results indicated that armed conflicts may cause lasting land-use change in areas distant from the actual battlegrounds, representing an example of a distant linkage in land systems, in our case caused by refugee movements. Temporally, armed conflicts appear to be able to cause a transition of the land-use system into a new state, akin to other drastic socioeconomic shocks.
  • Article
    Biodiversity conservation requires prioritization to be effective. Biodiversity hotspots and conservation planning identify where to focus conservation efforts, but it is unclear when conservation is most successful. Our goals were to: (a) investigate if hot moments for conservation occur, (b) calculate how important and prevalent they are, and (c) discuss what may catalyze hot moments for conservation. We analyzed the worldwide network of protected areas since inception, analyzing both all countries, and those 35 countries that contained at least 1% of either the total count or the total area protected globally. The evidence for hot moments for conservation was very strong. Among all countries, 44% protected more than half of their protected area in 1 year, and 61% did so in one 5-year period. The 35 countries that contain most of the protected area globally (77%) protected 23% and 49%, respectively, within 1 or 5 years. Hot moments often coincided with societal upheaval such as the collapse of the USSR or the end of colonialism. Conservationists need to account for hot moments for conservation to be most effective.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Recent advances in remote sensing enable the mapping and monitoring of carbon stocks without relying on extensive in situ measurements. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is among the countries where national forest inventories (NFI) are either non-existent or out of date. Here we demonstrate a method for estimating national-scale gross forest aboveground carbon (AGC) loss and associated uncertainties using remotely sensed-derived forest cover loss and biomass carbon density data. Lidar data were used as a surrogate for NFI plot measurements to estimate carbon stocks and AGC loss based on forest type and activity data derived using time-series multispectral imagery. Specifically, DRC forest type and loss from the FACET (Forêts d’Afrique Centrale Evaluées par Télédétection) product, created using Landsat data, were related to carbon data derived from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS). Validation data for FACET forest area loss were created at a 30-m spatial resolution and compared to the 60-m spatial resolution FACET map. We produced two gross AGC loss estimates for the DRC for the last decade (2000-2010): a map-scale estimate (53.3 ± 9.8 Tg C yr-1) accounting for whole-pixel classification errors in the 60-m resolution FACET forest cover change product, and a sub-grid estimate (72.1 ± 12.7 Tg C yr-1) that took into account 60-m cells that experienced partial forest loss. Our sub-grid forest cover and AGC loss estimates, which included smaller-scale forest disturbances, exceed published assessments. Results raise the issue of scale in forest cover change mapping and validation, and subsequent impacts on remotely sensed carbon stock change estimation, particularly for smallholder dominated systems such as the DRC.
  • Article
    The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) has been calculated for about 30 years as a means of providing a single measure of meteorological drought severity. It was intended to retrospectively look at wet and dry conditions using water balance techniques. The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) is a probability index that was developed to give a better representation of abnormal wetness and dryness than the Palmer indices. Before the user community will accept the SPI as an alternative to the Palmer indices, a standard method must be developed for computing the index. Standardization is necessary so that all users of the index will have a common basis for both spatial and temporal comparison of index values. If different probability distributions and models are used to describe an observed series of precipitation, then different SPI values may be obtained. This article describes the effect on the SPI values computed from different probability models as well as the effects on dry event characteristics. It is concluded that the Pearson Type III distribution is the `best' universal model, and that the reliability of the SPI is sample size dependent. It is also concluded that because of data limitations, SPIs with time scales longer than 24 months may be unreliable. An internet link is provided that will allow users to access Fortran 77 source code for calculating the SPI.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Quantification of global forest change has been lacking despite the recognized importance of forest ecosystem services. In this study, Earth observation satellite data were used to map global forest loss (2.3 million square kilometers) and gain (0.8 million square kilometers) from 2000 to 2012 at a spatial resolution of 30 meters. The tropics were the only climate domain to exhibit a trend, with forest loss increasing by 2101 square kilometers per year. Brazil's well-documented reduction in deforestation was offset by increasing forest loss in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola, and elsewhere. Intensive forestry practiced within subtropical forests resulted in the highest rates of forest change globally. Boreal forest loss due largely to fire and forestry was second to that in the tropics in absolute and proportional terms. These results depict a globally consistent and locally relevant record of forest change.
  • Article
    In 2011, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) recorded 37 armed conflicts with a minimum of 25 battle-related deaths. This significant increase from the 31 conflicts recorded in 2010 was primarily driven by an increase in conflicts on the African continent, and is only in part due to events tied to the Arab Spring which mostly led to other forms of violence than conventional armed conflict. The number of active conflicts still remains at a relatively low level compared to the peak years in the early 1990s, when more than 50 conflicts were active. The number of wars – conflicts leading to 1,000 or more battle-related deaths – increased to six; however, it is a considerably lower number than during the peak years of the early 1990s. For the second consecutive year, Afghanistan claimed the highest number of fatalities. Five armed conflicts listed for 2010 were not active in 2011, but during the year three new conflicts erupted – Libya, South Sudan and Sudan (Abyei) – and six conflicts already registered were restarted. Only one peace agreement was concluded during the year. Thus, the trend with low numbers of peace accords which started in 2009 continues.
  • Article
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    The impacts of armed conflict on ecosystems are complex and difficult to assess due to restricted access to affected areas during wartime making satellite remote sensing a useful tool for studying direct and indirect effects of conflict on the landscape. The Imatong Central Forest Reserve (ICFR) in South Sudan together with the nearby Dongotana Hills and the Agoro-Agu Forest Reserve (AFR) in Northern Uganda share a boundary and encompass a biologically diverse montane ecosystem. This study used satellite data combined with general human population trends to examine the impact of armed conflict and its outcome on similar forest ecosystems both during and after hostilities have occurred. A Disturbance Index (DI) was used to investigate the location and extent of forest cover loss and gain in three areas for two key time periods from mid-1980s to 2001 and 2003 to 2010. Results indicate that the rate of forest recovery was significantly higher than the rate of disturbance both during and after wartime in and around the ICFR and the net rate of forest cover change remained largely unchanged for the two time periods. In contrast, the nearby Dongotana Hills experienced relatively high rates of disturbance during both periods; however, post war period losses were largely offset by some gains in forest cover. For the AFR in Uganda, the rate of forest recovery was much higher during the second period, coinciding with the time people began leaving overcrowded camps. The diversity and merging of floristic regions in a very narrow band around the Imatong Mountains makes this area biologically distinct and of outstanding conservation importance; therefore, any future loss in forest cover is important to monitor — particularly in South Sudan where large numbers of people continue to return following the 2005 peace agreement and the 2011 Referendum on Independence.
  • Article
    Over the past few decades, tropical timber production in many Asia–Pacific countries has been akin to the symmetric logistic distribution curve, or ‘Hubbert Curve’, observed in the exploitation of many non-renewable resources—a rapid increase in production followed by a peak and then decline. There are three principal reasons why logging of native tropical forests resembles the mining of a non-renewable resource: the standard cutting cycle of 30–40 years is too brief to allow the wood volume to regenerate; tropical logging catalyses considerable deforestation; and the bulk of logging is undertaken by multinational corporations with little interest in long-term local sustainability. Unless something fundamental changes, we believe tropical forests will continue to be overharvested and cleared apace, leading to an inevitable global decline in tropical timbers of non-plantation origin. It has become common these days to speak of ‘peak oil’. In the tropics, we suggest that we should also begin to discuss the implications of ‘peak timber’.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Contributions to the quantitative civil war literature increasingly rely on geo-referenced data and disaggregated research designs. While this is a welcome trend, it necessitates geographic information systems (GIS) skills and imposes new challenges for data collection and analysis. So far, solutions to these challenges differ between studies, obstructing direct comparison of findings and hampering replication and extension of earlier work. This article presents a standardized structure for storing, manipulating, and analyzing high-resolution spatial data. PRIO-GRID is a vector grid network with a resolution of 0.5 x 0.5 decimal degrees, covering all terrestrial areas of the world. Gridded data comprise inherently apolitical entities; the grid cells are fixed in time and space, they are insensitive to political boundaries and developments, and they are completely exogenous to likely features of interest, such as civil war outbreak, ethnic settlement patterns, extreme weather events, or the spatial distribution of wealth. Moreover, unlike other disaggregated approaches, gridded data may be scaled up or down in a consistent manner by varying the resolution of the grid. The released dataset comes with cell-specific information on a large selection of political, economic, demographic, environmental, and conflict variables for all years, 1946–2008. A simple descriptive data assessment of population density and economic activity is offered to demonstrate how PRIO-GRID may be applied in quantitative social science research.
  • Article
    Pixels, blocks of pixels, and polygons are all potentially viable spatial assessment units for conducting an accuracy assessment. We develop a population-based statistical framework to examine how the spatial unit chosen affects the outcome of an accuracy assessment. The population is conceptualized as a difference map created by overlaying a complete coverage reference classification and the target map being evaluated. The per-class areas of agreement and disagreement derived from this population are summarized by a population error matrix and accuracy parameters (e.g., overall, user's and producer's accuracies). The population and values of the accuracy parameters are strongly affected by the protocols implemented for the response design which include the choice of spatial unit, how within-unit homogeneity is addressed when assigning class labels, and the definition of agreement between the reference and map classification. Several complete coverage populations are used to illustrate how accuracy results are affected by the spatial unit chosen for the assessment and also to evaluate how spatial misregistration of the map and reference locations impacts accuracy results for different spatial units. The sampling design implemented for accuracy assessment does not change the population or values of the accuracy parameters, but the choice of spatial unit will influence decisions regarding use of strata and clusters in the design. A universally best spatial assessment unit does not exist, so it is critical to recognize how the population, values of the accuracy parameters, and sampling design are impacted by the choice of spatial unit.
  • Article
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    The effects of armed conflict on biodiversity are an emerging concern in conservation due in part to the occurrence of war in biodiversity hotspots, though few studies have addressed it. We investigate this topic by examining changes in forest cover on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua from 1978 to 1993, a period covering their civil war. We predict an increase in forest cover between pre- and post-conflict periods as residents abandoned agriculture plots and migrated from conflict areas. We used a remote sensing approach to detect changes in forest cover area and fragmentation at two study sites. Results confirmed that in the first 5–7 years of the conflict, reforestation was greater than deforestation, but in the latter years of the conflict deforested land almost doubled that which was reforested. Although some forest loss was due to Category 4 Hurricane Joan, several conflict-related factors were partially responsible for these results, such as mass human migration and land reform. Understanding how and why forest cover changes during periods of conflict can help conservationists protect resources both during war and in the tumultuous period following the cessation of violence when nascent governments lack the power to effectively govern and community institutions are fractured by war. In areas where the livelihoods of people are directly dependent on local resources, anticipating ecological and social impacts can help improve future conservation efforts.
  • Article
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    Forest policies are failing in large areas of the world. In too many nations, forest area is declining, timber revenues are not capturing actual economic values, management plans—where they exist at all—are ignored, and ecologically significant areas are being degraded. In many places, public lands and even national parks cannot be protected against encroachment. Bitter local controversies over forest tenure and use rights persist. In many places, the underlying preconditions for sustainability do not exist in the face of state weakness and failure, corruption, and war. States generally recognized as failed or fragile encompass 15% of the world's forest. A cross tab of forest area (2005) against the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index shows that nearly half of the world's forest is in nations with what TI calls “rampant” corruption. This includes several major nations with extensive forests and important biodiversity hotspots. An encouraging upsurge of willingness to face this issue has occurred in the development community. But uprooting corruption and fixing state failure is easier said than done. Considering this fact, the outlook for more than half of the world's forest area—important to indigenous and forest-dependent people, and containing critical reserves of biodiversity—is grim.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Globalization is often associated with deforestation, but its impacts on forest recovery are less known. We analyzed socioeconomic data, land-use surveys, and satellite imagery to monitor changes in woody cover in El Salvador from the early 1990s to the presen't. Even where rural population density exceeded 250 people per square kilometer, we documented a 22% increase in the area with more than 30% tree cover, and a 7% increase in the area with more than 60% tree cover. Woodland resurgence reflected processes including civil war, retraction of the agricultural frontier, and international migration and associated remittances. Agrarian reform, structural adjustment, and emerging environmental ideas also played a role in woodland dynamics. Remittances may be especially important for woodland recovery in El Salvador, enabling people in rural areas to buy food without all of them needing to grow and sell it. This study adds to our understanding of the complexity of land-use change in emerging globalized economies and of potential conservation approaches for inhabited landscapes.
  • Article
    Over the last four years, the eastern Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have seen the precipitous rise and fall of a lucrative economy based on artisanal mining of tantalum ore. In some ways building on older patterns of survivalist economics in Congo, it also represents a radical mutation of livelihood strategies responding to an economy profoundly destroyed by colonial and post‐colonial neglect and greed, and more recently by five years of vicious war. That war has itself capitalised on the country's vast mineral wealth, progressively becoming ‘economised’, in that profits increasingly motivate the violence, and violence increasingly makes profits possible for all belligerents. This article details the tantalum commodity chain from its base in the forests and uplands of the Kivus to global markets. Through an exploration of popular rumour about economic activity it also traces how the war has radically altered conventional Congolese attitudes to the survivalist tradition of ‘fending for yourself, from perceptions of the heroic to perceptions of criminal domination by ‘foreigners’ and ‘Congolese traitors’. Yet if there is criminal gain from tantalum on the part of Congolese and foreign actors, tantalum mining has also become a critical mode of survival for many at the grassroots. International action against the ‘war economy’ in the Congo must therefore be careful to punish the real villains.
  • Article
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    This article examines the potential mutual conflict between interventions aimed at formalising artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) on the one hand, and policies implemented in response to the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) initiative on the other. Deforestation caused by ASM undermines sound forest management, and potentially threatens the implementation of REDD. Conversely, the adoption of REDD could further marginalise and criminalise the ASM sector, reducing its contribution to poverty alleviation. Reviewing a series of commonalities between ASM and forest management highlights many difficulties facing policy-makers. Potentially, contradictory outcomes of evolving governance arrangements means novel cross-sectoral institutions will be required to realise the full potential of REDD and ASM to address poverty reduction in a complementary fashion. The analysis reiterates the centrality of livelihoods to REDD and the need for policies to take into account local contexts. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  • Article
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    Techniques based on multi-temporal, multi-spectral, satellite-sensor- acquired data have demonstrated potential as a means to detect, identify, map and monitor ecosystem changes, irrespective of their causal agents. This review paper, which summarizes the methods and the results of digital change detection in the optical/infrared domain, has as its primary objective a synthesis of the state of the art today. It approaches,digital change,detection from,three angles. First, the different perspectives from which the variability in ecosystems and the change,events have been dealt with are summarized.,Change,detection between pairs of images,(bi-temporal) as well as between,time profiles of imagery,derived indicators (temporal trajectories), and, where relevant, the appropriate choices for digital imagery acquisition timing and change interval length definition, are discussed. Second, pre-processing routines either to establish a more direct linkage between remote sensing data and biophysical phenomena, or to temporally mosaic imagery and extract time profiles, are reviewed. Third, the actual change,detection,methods,themselves,are categorized,in an analytical framework and critically evaluated. Ultimately, the paper highlights how some of these methodological,aspects are being,fine-tuned as this review,is being written, and we summarize the new developments that can be expected in the near future. The review,highlights the high complementarity,between,different change,detection methods.
  • Article
    Forest cover and forest cover loss for the last decade, 2000–2010, have been quantified for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) using Landsat time-series data set. This was made possible via an exhaustive mining of the Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM +) archive. A total of 8881 images were processed to create multi-temporal image metrics resulting in 99.6% of the DRC land area covered by cloud-free Landsat observations. To facilitate image compositing, a top-of-atmosphere (TOA) reflectance calibration and image normalization using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) top of canopy (TOC) reflectance data sets were performed. Mapping and change detection was implemented using a classification tree algorithm. The national year 2000 forest cover was estimated to be 159,529.2 thou-sand hectares, with gross forest cover loss for the last decade totaling 2.3% of forest area. Forest cover loss area increased by 13.8% between the 2000–2005 and 2005–2010 intervals, with the greatest increase occur-ring within primary humid tropical forests. Forest loss intensity was distributed unevenly and associated with areas of high population density and mining activity. While forest cover loss is comparatively low in protected areas and priority conservation landscapes compared to forests outside of such areas, gross forest cover loss for all nature protection areas increased by 64% over the 2000 to 2005 and 2005 to 2010 intervals.
  • Article
    This research refers to an object-based automatic method combined with a national expert validation to produce regional and national forest cover change statistics over Congo Basin. A total of 547 sampling sites systematically distributed over the whole humid forest domain are required to cover the six Central African countries containing tropical moist forest. High resolution imagery is used to accurately estimate not only deforestation and reforestation but also degradation and regeneration. The overall method consists of four steps: (i) image automatic preprocessing and preinterpretation, (ii) interpretation by national expert, (iii) statistic computation and (iv) accuracy assessment. The annual rate of net deforestation in Congo Basin is estimated to 0.09% between 1990 and 2000 and of net degradation to 0.05%. Between 2000 and 2005, this unique exercise estimates annual net deforestation to 0.17% and annual net degradation to 0.09%. An accuracy assessment reveals that 92.7% of tree cover (TC) classes agree with independent expert interpretation. In the discussion, we underline the direct causes and the drivers of deforestation. Population density, small-scale agriculture, fuelwood collection and forest's accessibility are closely linked to deforestation, whereas timber extraction has no major impact on the reduction in the canopy cover. The analysis also shows the efficiency of protected areas to reduce deforestation. These results are expected to contribute to the discussion on the reduction in CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and serve as reference for the period.
  • Article
    All is not well for biodiversity in the tropics. Despite recent debate over the extent of future tropical extinctions and the effectiveness of reserve systems, the continued disappearance of habitat, soaring human population, and loss of vital ecosystem services demand immediate action. This crisis is worrying, given that tropical regions support over two-thirds of all known species and are populated by some of the world's poorest people, who have little recourse to lower environmental-impact lifestyles. Recent evidence has shown that - in addition to unabated rates of forest loss - coastal development, overexploitation of wildlife, catchment modification, and habitat conversion are threatening human well-being. We argue that the recent technical debate about likely extinctions masks the real issue - that, to prevent further loss of irreplaceable tropical biodiversity, we must err on the side of caution. We need to avoid inadvertently supporting political agendas that assume low future extinction rates, because this will result in further destruction of tropical biodiversity.
  • Article
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    Expansion of cropland in tropical countries is one of the principal causes of biodiversity loss, and threatens to undermine progress towards meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. To understand this threat better, we analysed data on crop distribution and expansion in 128 tropical countries, assessed changes in area of the main crops and mapped overlaps between conservation priorities and cultivation potential. Rice was the single crop grown over the largest area, especially in tropical forest biomes. Cropland in tropical countries expanded by c. 48,000 km(2) per year from 1999-2008. The countries which added the greatest area of new cropland were Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Brazil. Soybeans and maize are the crops which expanded most in absolute area. Other crops with large increases included rice, sorghum, oil palm, beans, sugar cane, cow peas, wheat and cassava. Areas of high cultivation potential-while bearing in mind that political and socio-economic conditions can be as influential as biophysical ones-may be vulnerable to conversion in the future. These include some priority areas for biodiversity conservation in tropical countries (e.g., Frontier Forests and High Biodiversity Wilderness Areas), which have previously been identified as having 'low vulnerability', in particular in central Africa and northern Australia. There are also many other smaller areas which are important for biodiversity and which have high cultivation potential (e.g., in the fringes of the Amazon basin, in the Paraguayan Chaco, and in the savanna woodlands of the Sahel and East Africa). We highlight the urgent need for more effective sustainability standards and policies addressing both production and consumption of tropical commodities, including robust land-use planning in agricultural frontiers, establishment of new protected areas or REDD+ projects in places agriculture has not yet reached, and reduction or elimination of incentives for land-demanding bioenergy feedstocks.
  • Article
    By examining the Congolese political economy through the lens of the ‘resource curse’ theory, this article aims to advance our understanding of the chronic underdevelopment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Proceeding in three distinct phases the article examines the effect of resource rents, foreignn aid and the likely effect of Chinese investment. It finds that a political tradition of patrimonialism and corruption based on large inflows of easily corruptible resource rents was established in the Mobutu period. In the post-conflict period the source of revenue shifted from resource rents to foreign aid, while the political tradition remained essentially unchanged. The model of the Congolese political economy established in these first two sections will then be used to make an informed assessment of the Sicomines deal. The article finds that the structured nature of the deals means that it is unlikely to perpetuate the ‘resource curse’ condition.
  • Article
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    Recent studies concerning the possible relationship between climate trends and the risks of violent conflict have yielded contradictory results, partly because of choices of conflict measures and modeling design. In this study, we examine climate-conflict relationships using a geographically disaggregated approach. We consider the effects of climate change to be both local and national in character, and we use a conflict database that contains 16,359 individual geolocated violent events for East Africa from 1990 to 2009. Unlike previous studies that relied exclusively on political and economic controls, we analyze the many geographical factors that have been shown to be important in understanding the distribution and causes of violence while also considering yearly and country fixed effects. For our main climate indicators at gridded 1° resolution (∼100 km), wetter deviations from the precipitation norms decrease the risk of violence, whereas drier and normal periods show no effects. The relationship between temperature and conflict shows that much warmer than normal temperatures raise the risk of violence, whereas average and cooler temperatures have no effect. These precipitation and temperature effects are statistically significant but have modest influence in terms of predictive power in a model with political, economic, and physical geographic predictors. Large variations in the climate-conflict relationships are evident between the nine countries of the study region and across time periods.
  • Article
    This paper provides a review of data on the effects of the civil war on forest areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Only a few of these effects were beneficial, the most important being the collapse of the wood industry. However, the war has increased the number of people that rely on wood for fuel and bushmeat for protein. The presence of soldiers and refugees aggravates this pressure. When people hide they do not necessarily refrain from hunting, because goods, including ivory, can be stocked to be traded when the situation improves. War seems beneficial to the environment only if it keeps people out of large areas. It could be useful to extend the concept of peace parks to war zones. The idea of an international ‘green force’ to protect biodiversity hotspots should be given serious consideration. Awareness is growing that political instability should not preclude conservation efforts from being continued.
  • Article
    The frequently anecdotal nature of evidence concerning the impact of warfare on conservation poses numerous problems and there have been calls to apply a strict set of conditions to such data to improve the rigor of scientific analysis in this field. To illustrate the difficulties, however, of applying strict quantitative conditions on such data a deterministic model of conflict-linked deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa was constructed and the implications of the model discussed. Our model indicates that from 1990–2005 approximately 35,000 ha of timber have been used to support officially recorded UN refugees in this region: this is a continuing impact, albeit quantified using data with some potential error. An alternative semi-quantitative approach was also used, with reported environmental impacts of conflict assessed for reliability and severity using a number of empirical criteria. Data focusing on the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda were subsequently analysed using this framework. Illegal resource exploitation was identified as the primary impact resulting from conflict and, in some instances, a driver of the hostilities. From the joint consideration of the conflict and post-conflict phases such exploitation is concluded to be the product of lawlessness and anarchy generated by violent uprisings rather than violence per se. As such, armed conflict does not pose a novel threat to protected areas but rather amplifies threats extant during peace, creating a need for appropriate responses by those involved in conservation management. With both the occurrence and violence of conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa increasing, the impacts of warfare are pertinent to both the immediate and long-term management of biological resources in the region.
  • Urban land-cover change threatens biodiversity and affects ecosystem productivity through loss of habitat, biomass, and carbon storage. However, despite projections that world urban populations will increase to nearly 5 billion by 2030, little is known about future locations, magnitudes, and rates of urban expansion. Here we develop spatially explicit probabilistic forecasts of global urban land-cover change and explore the direct impacts on biodiversity hotspots and tropical carbon biomass. If current trends in population density continue and all areas with high probabilities of urban expansion undergo change, then by 2030, urban land cover will increase by 1.2 million km(2), nearly tripling the global urban land area circa 2000. This increase would result in considerable loss of habitats in key biodiversity hotspots, with the highest rates of forecasted urban growth to take place in regions that were relatively undisturbed by urban development in 2000: the Eastern Afromontane, the Guinean Forests of West Africa, and the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka hotspots. Within the pan-tropics, loss in vegetation biomass from areas with high probability of urban expansion is estimated to be 1.38 PgC (0.05 PgC yr(-1)), equal to ∼5% of emissions from tropical deforestation and land-use change. Although urbanization is often considered a local issue, the aggregate global impacts of projected urban expansion will require significant policy changes to affect future growth trajectories to minimize global biodiversity and vegetation carbon losses.
  • Article
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    The rapid disruption of tropical forests probably imperils global biodiversity more than any other contemporary phenomenon. With deforestation advancing quickly, protected areas are increasingly becoming final refuges for threatened species and natural ecosystem processes. However, many protected areas in the tropics are themselves vulnerable to human encroachment and other environmental stresses. As pressures mount, it is vital to know whether existing reserves can sustain their biodiversity. A critical constraint in addressing this question has been that data describing a broad array of biodiversity groups have been unavailable for a sufficiently large and representative sample of reserves. Here we present a uniquely comprehensive data set on changes over the past 20 to 30 years in 31 functional groups of species and 21 potential drivers of environmental change, for 60 protected areas stratified across the world’s major tropical regions. Our analysis reveals great variation in reserve ‘health’: about half of all reserves have been effective or performed passably, but the rest are experiencing an erosion of biodiversity that is often alarmingly widespread taxonomically and functionally. Habitat disruption, hunting and forest-product exploitation were the strongest predictors of declining reserve health. Crucially, environmental changes immediately outside reserves seemed nearly as important as those inside in determining their ecological fate, with changes inside reserves strongly mirroring those occurring around them. These findings suggest that tropical protected areas are often intimately linked ecologically to their surrounding habitats, and that a failure to stem broad-scale loss and degradation of such habitats could sharply increase the likelihood of serious biodiversity declines.
  • Article
    Quantifying forest change in the tropics is important because of the role these forests play in the conservation of biodiversity and the global carbon cycle. One of the world's largest remaining areas of tropical forest is located in Papua New Guinea. Here we show that change in its extent and condition has occurred to a greater extent than previously recorded. We assessed deforestation and forest degradation in Papua New Guinea by comparing a land-cover map from 1972 with a land-cover map created from nationwide high-resolution satellite imagery recorded since 2002. In 2002 there were 28,251,967 ha of tropical rain forest. Between 1972 and 2002, a net 15 percent of Papua New Guinea's tropical forests were cleared and 8.8 percent were degraded through logging. The drivers of forest change have been concentrated within the accessible forest estate where a net 36 percent were degraded or deforested through both forestry and nonforestry processes. Since 1972, 13 percent of upper montane forests have also been lost. We estimate that over the period 1990–2002, overall rates of change generally increased and varied between 0.8 and 1.8 percent/yr, while rates in commercially accessible forest have been far higher—having varied between 1.1 and 3.4 percent/yr. These rates are far higher than those reported by the FAO over the same period. We conclude that rapid and substantial forest change has occurred in Papua New Guinea, with the major drivers being logging in the lowland forests and subsistence agriculture throughout the country with comparatively minor contributions from forest fires, plantation establishment, and mining.
  • Article
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    We highlight the complexity of land-use/cover change and propose a framework for a more general understanding of the issue, with emphasis on tropical regions. The review summarizes recent estimates on changes in cropland, agricul-tural intensification, tropical deforestation, pasture expansion, and urbanization and identifies the still unmeasured land-cover changes. Climate-driven land-cover mod-ifications interact with land-use changes. Land-use change is driven by synergetic factor combinations of resource scarcity leading to an increase in the pressure of production on resources, changing opportunities created by markets, outside policy intervention, loss of adaptive capacity, and changes in social organization and atti-tudes. The changes in ecosystem goods and services that result from land-use change feed back on the drivers of land-use change. A restricted set of dominant pathways of land-use change is identified. Land-use change can be understood using the con-cepts of complex adaptive systems and transitions. Integrated, place-based research on land-use/land-cover change requires a combination of the agent-based systems and nar-rative perspectives of understanding. We argue in this paper that a systematic analysis of local-scale land-use change studies, conducted over a range of timescales, helps to uncover general principles that provide an explanation and prediction of new land-use changes.
  • Article
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    New deforestation and selective logging data and climate change projections suggest that biodiversity refugia in humid tropical forests may change more extensively than previously reported. However, the relative impacts from climate change and land use vary by region. In the Amazon, a combination of climate change and land use renders up to 81% of the region susceptible to rapid vegetation change. In the Congo, logging and climate change could negatively affect the biodiversity in 35–74% of the basin. Climate-driven changes may play a smaller role in Asia-Oceania compared to that of Latin America or Africa, but land use renders 60–77% of Asia-Oceania susceptible to major biodiversity changes. By 2100, only 18–45% of the biome will remain intact. The results provide new input on the geography of projected climate change relative to ongoing land-use change to better determine where biological conservation might be most effective in this century.
  • Article
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    Many regions that are endowed with scarce natural resources such as arable land and water, and which are remote from a central government, suffer from violence and ethnic strife. A number of studies have looked at the convergence of economic, political and ecological marginality in several African countries. However, there is limited empirical study on the role of violence in pastoral livelihoods across ecological and geographical locations. Yet, case studies focusing on livelihood and poverty issues could inform us about violent behaviour as collective action or as individual decisions, and to what extent such decisions are informed or explained by specific climatic conditions. Several case studies point out that violence is indeed an enacted behaviour, rooted in culture and an accepted form of interaction. This article critically discusses the relevance of geographical and climatic parameters in explaining the connection between poverty and violent conflicts in Kenya’s pastoral areas. These issues are considered vis-à -vis the role institutional arrangements play in preventing violent conflict over natural resources from occurring or getting out of hand. The article uses long-term historical data, archival information and a number of fieldwork sources. The results indicate that the context of violence does not deny its agency in explanation of conflicts, but the institutional set-up may ultimately explain the occurrence of the resource curse.
  • Article
    This article presents ACLED, an Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset. ACLED codes the actions of rebels, governments, and militias within unstable states, specifying the exact location and date of battle events, transfers of military control, headquarter establishment, civilian violence, and rioting. In the current version, the dataset covers 50 unstable countries from 1997 through 2010. ACLED's disaggregation of civil war and transnational violent events allow for research on local level factors and the dynamics of civil and communal conflict. Findings from subnational conflict research challenges conclusions from larger national-level studies. In a brief descriptive analysis, the authors find that, on average, conflict covers 15% of a state's territory, but almost half of a state can be directly affected by internal wars.
  • Chapter
    Among human activities causing ecological change, war is both intensive and far-reaching. Yet environmental research related to warfare is limited in depth and fragmented by discipline. Here we (1) outline a field of study called “warfare ecology,” (2) provide a taxonomy of warfare useful for organizing the field, (3) review empirical studies, and (4) propose research directions and policy implications that emerge from the ecological study of warfare. Warfare ecology extends to the three stages of warfare—preparations, war, and postwar activities—and treats biophysical and socioeconomic systems as coupled systems. A review of empirical studies suggests complex relationships between warfare and ecosystem change. Research needs include the development of theory and methods for examining the cascading effects of warfare on specific ecosystems. Policy implications include greater incorporation of ecological science into military planning and improved rehabilitation of postwar ecosystem services, leading to increased peace and security. Keywordsecology-warfare-policy-conflicts-ecosystems
  • Article
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    Over the second half of the 20th century, conflicts within national boundaries became increasingly dominant. One-third of all countries experienced civil conflict. Many (if not most) such conflicts involved violence along ethnic lines. On the basis of recent theoretical and empirical research, we provide evidence that preexisting ethnic divisions do influence social conflict. Our analysis also points to particular channels of influence. Specifically, we show that two different measures of ethnic division--polarization and fractionalization--jointly influence conflict, the former more so when the winners enjoy a "public" prize (such as political power or religious hegemony), the latter more so when the prize is "private" (such as looted resources, government subsidies, or infrastructures). The available data appear to strongly support existing theories of intergroup conflict. Our argument also provides indirect evidence that ethnic conflicts are likely to be instrumental, rather than driven by primordial hatreds.
  • Article
    Protected areas (PAs) often depend on landscapes surrounding them to maintain flows of organisms, water, nutrients, and energy. Park managers have little authority over the surrounding landscape although land use change and infrastructure development can have major impacts on the integrity of a PA. The need for scientifically-based regional-scale land use planning around protected areas is acute in human-dominated landscapes to balance conservation goals with livelihood needs for fuelwood, fodder, and other ecosystem services. As a first step, we propose the designation of a “zone of interaction” (ZOI) around PAs that encompasses hydrologic, ecological, and socioeconomic interactions between a PA and the surrounding landscape. We illustrate the concept by delineating the ZOI in three Indian PAs – Kanha, Ranthambore, and Nagarahole – using remote sensing, population census, and field data. The ZOI in Ranthambore is three times the size of the park and is largely defined by the socioeconomic interactions with surrounding villages. Ranthambore is located in headwaters and wildlife corridors are largely severed. In Nagarahole, the ZOI is more than seven times larger than the park and includes upstream watershed and elephant corridors. Kanha’s ZOI is approximately four times larger than the park and is mostly defined by contiguous surrounding forest. The three examples highlight the differing extents of ZOIs when applying equivalent criteria, even though all are located in densely-populated landscapes. Quantitative understanding of which activities (e.g. collection of forest products, grazing, road construction, tourism development) and which locations within the ZOI are most crucial to conservation goals will enable improved land use planning around PAs in human-dominated landscapes.
  • Article
    Availability of free, high quality Landsat data portends a new era in remote sensing change detection. Using dense (~ annual) Landsat time series (LTS), we can now characterize vegetation change over large areas at an annual time step and at the spatial grain of anthropogenic disturbance. Additionally, we expect more accurate detection of subtle disturbances and improved characterization in terms of both timing and intensity. For Landsat change detection in this new era of dense LTS, new detection algorithms are required, and new approaches are needed to calibrate those algorithms and to examine the veracity of their output. This paper addresses that need by presenting a new tool called TimeSync for syncing algorithm and human interpretations of LTS. The tool consists of four components: (1) a chip window within which an area of user-defined size around an area of interest (i.e., plot) is displayed as a time series of image chips which are viewed simultaneously, (2) a trajectory window within which the plot spectral properties are displayed as a trajectory of Landsat band reflectance or index through time in any band or index desired, (3) a Google Earth window where a recent high-resolution image of the plot and its neighborhood can be viewed for context, and (4) an Access database where observations about the LTS for the plot of interest are entered. In this paper, we describe how to use TimeSync to collect data over forested plots in Oregon and Washington, USA, examine the data collected with it, and then compare those data with the output from a new LTS algorithm, LandTrendr, described in a companion paper (Kennedy et al., 2010). For any given plot, both TimeSync and LandTrendr partitioned its spectral trajectory into linear sequential segments. Depending on the direction of spectral change associated with any given segment in a trajectory, the segment was assigned a label of disturbance, recovery, or stable. Each segment was associated with a start and end vertex which describe its duration. We explore a variety of ways to summarize the trajectory data and compare those summaries derived from both TimeSync and LandTrendr. One comparison, involving start vertex date and segment label, provides a direct linkage to existing change detection validation approaches that rely on contingency (error) matrices and kappa statistics. All other comparisons are unique to this study, and provide a rich set of means by which to examine algorithm veracity. One of the strengths of TimeSync is its flexibility with respect to sample design, particularly the ability to sample an area of interest with statistical validity through space and time. This is in comparison to the use of existing reference data (e.g., field or airphoto data), which, at best, exist for only parts of the area of interest, for only specific time periods, or are restricted thematically. The extant data, even though biased in their representation, can be used to ascertain the veracity of TimeSync interpretation of change. We demonstrate that process here, learning that what we cannot see with TimeSync are those changes that are not expressed in the forest canopy (e.g., pre-commercial harvest or understory burning) and that these extant reference datasets have numerous omissions that render them less than desirable for representing truth.
  • Article
    In this paper we demonstrate a new approach that uses regional/continental MODIS (MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) derived forest cover products to calibrate Landsat data for exhaustive high spatial resolution mapping of forest cover and clearing in the Congo River Basin. The approach employs multi-temporal Landsat acquisitions to account for cloud cover, a primary limiting factor in humid tropical forest mapping. A Basin-wide MODIS 250 m Vegetation Continuous Field (VCF) percent tree cover product is used as a regionally consistent reference data set to train Landsat imagery. The approach is automated and greatly shortens mapping time. Results for approximately one third of the Congo Basin are shown. Derived high spatial resolution forest change estimates indicate that less than 1% of the forests were cleared from 1990 to 2000. However, forest clearing is spatially pervasive and fragmented in the landscapes studied to date, with implications for sustaining the region's biodiversity. The forest cover and change data are being used by the Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) program to study deforestation and biodiversity loss in the Congo Basin forest zone. Data from this study are available at http://carpe.umd.edu.
  • Article
    Forests can provide refuge, funds, and food for combatants in civil war. Insurgents may also use forested regions to hide from government troops and the government may choose to ignore them if they remain in remote forested regions. Case studies of Burma, Cambodia, and other countries show that forest resources have served to fuel armed conflict. Several scholars and NGOs have portrayed this as a world-wide problem, but there are hardly any relevant statistical studies. This article first develops theoretically the different mechanisms relating forest resources to conflict. It then looks at the empirical relationship for the onset and duration of conflict at the country level and finds very little support for a general and direct relationship. At this level, it would appear that many have generalized too hastily from the case studies. The analysis then moves to the disaggregated level and looks at the duration of conflict when forest resources are available in the conflict zone. Again, no general relationship is found. We find that a shorter distance to the coast tends to make the conflicts in forested conflict zones longer. On the other hand many of the significant results we find are driven by one or two cases. While several generalizations from case studies seem overly ambitious, a more careful modeling of the mechanisms revealed by the cases finds some support in the statistical study.