Historical patterns and drivers of landscape change in Columbia since 1500

Etter, Andres, McAlpine, Clive and Possingham, Hugh (2008) Historical patterns and drivers of landscape change in Columbia since 1500. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 98 1: 2-23. doi:10.1080/00045600701733911

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Author Etter, Andres
McAlpine, Clive
Possingham, Hugh
Title Historical patterns and drivers of landscape change in Columbia since 1500
Journal name Annals of the Association of American Geographers   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0004-5608
Publication date 2008-03-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/00045600701733911
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 98
Issue 1
Start page 2
End page 23
Total pages 22
Place of publication Philadelphia, PA, United States
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Subject C1
050104 Landscape Ecology
960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
D Environment
05 Environmental Sciences
Abstract The extent and the spatial patterns of landscape transformation we observe today are the result of the historic human settlement process, often dating back hundreds or thousands of years. Analyzing and reconstructing those historical patterns helps to advance the understanding of the dynamics and persistence of present-day ecosystems. This article explores this reconstruction by identifying and analyzing historic drivers of landscape change for seven periods between 1500 and 2000, and presents historical land use maps showing major trends and impacts on natural ecosystems. Historic land use maps were built using an ecosystem map of 1998 and a “preclearing” ecosystem map, by constraining the spatial change of transformed areas using data on accessibility to rivers and roads, elevation, slope, moisture availability, and settlement areas. We estimate the transformed area rose from approximately 15 Mha in 1500 to 42 Mha in 2000, and land use changed from cropping in 1500 to predominantly grazing in 2000. Demographic impacts of colonization and the introduction of cattle were major drivers of change, but rates and trends of land cover change varied between regions and from period to period. The most impacted ecosystems have been the Andean and tropical dry forests, with the most recent trends toward clearing of humid lowland forests, especially in the Amazon and Pacific. Some landscapes have been subject to strong human influence continuously for more than 500 years, whereas others have been transformed for less than thirty years. We discuss the relevance of a historical approach for guiding conservation goals, ecological restoration efforts, and research hypotheses.
Keyword Colombia
Environmental history
Historical land use drivers
Land cover change
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Thu, 09 Apr 2009, 00:59:51 EST by Helen Smith on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management