Julie Velasquez Runk
Advisors: Michael Dove, EnriqueMayer & Charles Peters at NYBG
Eastern Panamá has been the locus of much land cover and land use change in the last 25 years, particularly as a result of the extension of the Pan American Highway to the region in the mid-1980s and the subsequent eastern advance of the agricultural and cattle frontiers. In this project I will examine land cover changes between 1985 and 2003 across the region and also on a finer scale across two indigenous villages. I will used Landsat Thematic Mapper images to assess conversion of old-growth forest across the region and also with orthophotos to assess finer scale use of lands using a chronosequence of old rice swidden and selective tree harvest sites in the village lands of Majé. The results of these analyses demonstrate the importance of historical, social, political, and ecological data in interpreting and understanding land cover changes as well as their attendant policy recommendations.