Spatial near future modeling of land use and land cover changes in the temperate forests of Mexico

PeerJ. 2019 Mar 21;7:e6617. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6617. eCollection 2019.


The loss of temperate forests of Mexico has continued in recent decades despite wide recognition of their importance to maintaining biodiversity. This study analyzes land use/land cover change scenarios, using satellite images from the Landsat sensor. Images corresponded to the years 1990, 2005 and 2017. The scenarios were applied for the temperate forests with the aim of getting a better understanding of the patterns in land use/land cover changes. The Support Vector Machine (SVM) multispectral classification technique served to determine the land use/land cover types, which were validated through the Kappa Index. For the simulation of land use/land cover dynamics, a model developed in Dinamica-EGO was used, which uses stochastic models of Markov Chains, Cellular Automata and Weight of Evidences. For the study, a stationary, an optimistic and a pessimistic scenario were proposed. The projections based on the three scenarios were simulated for the year 2050. Five types of land use/land cover were identified and evaluated. They were primary forest, secondary forest, human settlements, areas without vegetation and water bodies. Results from the land use/land cover change analysis show a substantial gain for the secondary forest. The surface area of the primary forest was reduced from 55.8% in 1990 to 37.7% in 2017. Moreover, the three projected scenarios estimate further losses of the surface are for the primary forest, especially under the stationary and pessimistic scenarios. This highlights the importance and probably urgent implementation of conservation and protection measures to preserve these ecosystems and their services. Based on the accuracy obtained and on the models generated, results from these methodologies can serve as a decision tool to contribute to the sustainable management of the natural resources of a region.

Keywords: Cellular automata; Dinamica-EGO; Land use/land cover change; Markov chains; Pessimistic scenario; Remote sensing; Scenarios; Temperate forests; Weights of evidence.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.7845212.v1

Grant support

Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Mexico provided the scholarship given to Jesús A. Prieto-Amparán to pursue his graduate studies. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.