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Utilizing geographic information system (GIS) to determine optimum forest cover for minimizing runoff in a degraded watershed in Jamaica

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Optimum forest cover is not a new concept. It was part of the suggested policies to achieve sustainable forest management at a 1996 meeting of the UN/FAO Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. It has not been actively pursued by many countries however, but since deforestation is being singled out as one of the major contributing factors to degrading global climatic conditions, this concept may take on new meaning. This research devised a methodology for determining the optimum forest cover for a degraded watershed in south-central Jamaica. The model suggested a spatial pattern in the upper portions of the watershed which increased the forest cover from 16.76 to 37.47 . This significantly reduced runoff where the forest cover was optimized and simulated in a hydrological model. This technique will give direction to forest management and conservation in Jamaica and will form part of the decision support system for the country's planners.
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Keywords: optimum forest cover; run-off; watershed rehabilitation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Forestry Department, 173 Constant Spring Road, Kingston 8, Jamaica.

Publication date: 01 September 2009

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