Investigator:

Laura Frye-Levin

Advisor: Amity Doolittle

Description:

Cusuco National Park, a 7,700 hectare montane cloud forest in Northern Honduras, was established in 1987 as a legally protected area with high biological diversity. As a newly protected area in a third world country - the conservation status of the park is far from secure. Local villagers have historically depended on forest products from the park for survival, and a successful management plan addressing park conservation and rural development has yet to be drafted. This summer I will travel to Cusuco the perform mapping, ground truthing of land use patterns, and social science research to aid in the creation of such a management plan. I am using remote sensing to help assess the trajectories of land use within the park since its inception.

I have attempted to identify significant trajectories in land use change within the park. To accomplish this I have used mostly qualitative methods of change comparison and analysis, including unsupervised classification, NDVI, PVI (Perpendicular Vegetation Index), MSAVI2 (Modified Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index), DEM drapes of composite vegetation indices, and visual comparison of images from the two years using different spectral combinations. Absent ground truthing data, my ability to make significant quantitative judgments about land use change in Cusuco National Park has been limited, though the familiarity I have gained with the local terrain and through the analysis of generalized patterns of change has been invaluable preparation for the fieldwork I will undertake this summer.

This project will be a continuation of my final project for OEFS - I will incorporate ground-truth data obtained in the field this summer and expand the temporal and spatial range of image analysis that I began in OEFS.