Driving forces of tropical deforestation: The role of remote sensing and spatial models
Remote sensing technologies are increasingly used to monitor landscape change in many parts of the world. While the availability of extensive and timely imagery from various satellite sensors can aid in identifying the rates and patterns of deforestation, modelling techniques can evaluate the socioeconomic and biophysical forces driving deforestation processes. This paper briefly reviews some emerging spatial methodologies aimed at identifying driving forces of land use change and applies one such methodology to understand deforestation in Mexico. Satellite image classification, change analysis and econometric modelling are used to identify the rates, hotspots and drivers of deforestation in a case study of the southern Yucatán peninsular region, an enumerated global hotspot of biodiversity and tropical deforestation. In particular, the relative roles of biophysical and socioeconomic factors in driving regional deforestation rates are evaluated. Such methodological approaches can be applied to other regions of the forested tropics and contribute insights to conservation planning and policy.