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Forest cover and deforestation in Jamaica: an analysis of forest cover estimates over time

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Forest cover and related deforestation data published in reputable international forest assessment documents during the past decade have characterised the island of Jamaica as having one of the world's highest rates of deforestation. An analysis of pre-1990 land use data together with a detailed study of 1989 and 1998 LANDSAT TM imagery of the island revealed that there were fundamental errors in the data used during the 1990s. A study by the Forestry Department and the Trees for Tomorrow Project found that the annual rate of deforestation for the period 1989-1998 was 0.1%, much less than had been previously estimated. This paper seeks to explain the variation in existing forest cover data, its change over time and to point to the need for more accurate and reliable data to be developed internally, based on a rigorous forest cover definition, forest type classification and monitoring methodology.
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Keywords: Jamaica; deforestation; forest cover; forest monitoring; forest type classification

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Forestry Department, Trees for Tomorrow Project, 173 Constant Spring Road, Kingston 8, Jamaica

Publication date: 01 December 2003

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