Jaime Severino

Advisor: Mathew Kotchen


The Mexican shoreline to the Caribbean Sea, in Quintana Roo State, has experienced rapid urban growth during the last three decades because of the development of tourism industry. The best known city in the region is Cancun which population has grown 315% from 1990 to 2005. Playa del Carmen city has grown even more in the same period. Not only the city itself has grown, but also more remote areas across the shore line to develop tourism infrastructure. All this growth is not counted as part of the city but has a deep impact in the dynamics of the regions in terms of resources consumption, land use and land cover changes.

The area is covered by tropical broadleaf forest with height up to 30 meters, in which between 25 % and 50 % of the trees lose their foliage during dry season. Usually this kind of forest has abundance of epiphytes and vines. This kind of forest covers 4% of the country’s total surface, but has considerable biodiversity. With the idea of collaborate with the National Forest Commission (CONAFOR) to design and test a general methodology to evaluate changes in land cover in Mexico using SPOT images, this projects aims to apply one procedure to identify land cover changes with the available imagery. So the project answers the question, what is the amount of forest lost between March of 2005 and December 2007 in the coastal zone south to Playa del Carmen, Mexico?