Identification and characterization of deforestation hot spots in Venezuela using MODIS satellite images

Identificação e caracterização dos hot spots do desmatamento na Venezuela a partir de imagens de satélite MODIS

Carlos Eduardo Pacheco María Inmaculada Aguado Danilo Mollicone About the authors

Land cover changes over time as a result of human activity. Nowadays deforestation may be considered one of the main environmental problems. The objective of this study was to identify and characterize changes to forest cover in Venezuela between 2005-2010. Two maps of deforestation hot spots were generated on the basis of MODIS data, one using digital techniques and the other by means of direct visual interpretation by experts. These maps were validated against Landsat ETM+ images. The accuracy of the map obtained digitally was estimated by means of a confusion matrix. The overall accuracy of the maps obtained digitally was 92.5%. Expert opinions regarding the hot spots permitted the causes of deforestation to be identified. The main processes of deforestation were concentrated to the north of the Orinoco River, where 8.63% of the country's forests are located. In this region, some places registered an average annual forest change rate of between 0.72% and 2.95%, above the forest change rate for the country as a whole (0.61%). The main causes of deforestation for the period evaluated were agricultural and livestock activities (47.9%), particularly family subsistence farming and extensive farming which were carried out in 94% of the identified areas.

Monitoring; land use; land cover change

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