By Samantha Martin del Campo Munoz (Mexico)
During the last decades, forest cover and the area of cropland in the tropics experienced rapid and unprecedented changes. Land cover changes are associated with population growth, and their increasing demand for agricultural products. Relationship between demographic dynamics and land cover changes have been studied before at regional and country level, but scarcely at rural level. The recent availability of datasets with consistent data classification and high resolution have opened the possibility of studying these relationships at village level. This thesis assessed relations between demographic dynamics and land cover changes at village and country level. The study focused in 251 communities located in the tropics, with a high dependence on forest products. Poverty and Environmental Network (PEN) was used as demographic data, MODIS land cover and the Global Forest Cover datasets were used to investigate the land cover change trends. The results showed significant correlations between forest cover and migration (R=-0.26, p<0.05), and agriculture cover and migration at village level (R=0-26, p<0.05) and at national scale (R=-0.59, p<0.05) and (R=0.62, p<0.05) respectively. Village or countries with high in-migration rates, present deforestation and agriculture expansion. Improvements of the study could be the use of land cover datasets with higher accuracy and suitability in order to have better land cover change assessment.
Keywords: Land cover change; Demographic dynamics; Tropics; Village level; Pearson correlation; Geographic information systems.