Analysis of Land Use and Land Cover Changes and Evaluation of Natural Generation and Potential Restoration Areas in the Mexican Huasteca Region
Open Journal of Forestry
This study aims to analyze temporal changes in land use and land cover change (LUCC) as well as identify areas for natural regeneration and potential areas for forest restoration in the Huasteca region for the period from 1976 to 2007. Changes were quantified in numbers and, additionally, cartography was used to identify and map the main affected areas. Different models based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) demonstrated that LUCC have occurred on an area of 11718.82 km 2 , representing
... m 2 , representing 17.84% of the region's surface. Agriculture and the growth of pasture could be identified as the main human-induced activities that have led to landscape modification. In addition, forest cover is affected by a deforestation rate which is higher than the national average. Further important changes include a change from natural land cover to non-original land cover, affecting an area of 4911.88 km 2 in the period from 1976-1993, and an area of 1892.5 km 2 in the period from 1993-2002. Smaller changes could be observed for the period from 1993-2002 with an affected area of 1029.78 km 2 . At the same time, a natural regeneration from nonoriginal to original land cover took place from 1976-1993 on an area of 1318.68 km 2 , and also on an area of 974.18 km 2 between 1993 an 2002. The surface that underwent a natural regeneration of forest cover made up 1932.07 km 2 . At the same time, an area of 5739.29 km 2 for potential forest restoration was identified. Drawing on GIS methods and techniques, the development of thematic maps for land use, land use and land cover changes for the years of analysis (1976-1993-2002-2007) proved to be very adequate for the evaluation and analysis of the land cover and land use change, in particular with regard to the decrease of natural vegetation cover.