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Forest Cover, Condition, and Ecology in Human-Impacted Forests, South-Eastern Madagascar

By Jane C. Ingram and Terence P. Dawson

Abstract

The littoral forests of south-eastern Madagascar are a national conservation priority due to high degrees of biodiversity, but face pressures from regular human use and a future mining operation. A landscape scale assessment of deforestation patterns, forest condition and composition of remaining forest stands is important for understanding the nature and distribution of human pressures and could act to inform land use management and identify conservation priorities throughout the area. In light of these issues, the aims of this study were threefold: to document patterns of littoral forest loss at multiple spatial and temporal scales; to map littoral forest structure across the landscape; and to assess the abundance and diversity of littoral forest tree species valuable to both humans and conservationists. The methods applied include satellite remote sensing applications and groundbased ecological surveys. We demonstrate three results: first, patterns of forest loss are spatially and temporally variable; second, forest basal area, an indicator of forest condition, can be estimated using multi-spectral satellite data, artificial neural networks and ground survey data; and third, littoral forests possess high abundance and diversity of tree populations of importance for both conservation and human livelihoods, despite regular use by local people. A landscape perspective, combined with an understanding of the local human and environmental context, is crucial for understanding the nature and impact of human pressures on forest resources, and, thus, determining optimal management possibilities

Topics: G1, GE, GB
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:58470
Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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