Landscape transformations in savannas of northern South America: Land use/cover changes since 1987 in the Llanos Orientales of Colombia

  • Romero-Ruiz M
  • Flantua S
  • Tansey K
 et al. 
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Abstract

This study presents a detailed spatial, quantitative assessment of the land use/cover changes (LUCC) in the savanna region of Llanos Orientales in Colombia. LUCC was determined from multitemporal satellite imagery (Landsat and CBERS) from 1987 to 2007. Systematic landscape transitions were identified and put in the context of population change and economic activity. The results showed that during the period 1987 to 2007, 14% of the study area underwent some kind of land use/cover change, with most change occurring in the last decade. Systematic transitions were observed from flooded savannas to crops and exotic pastures. An important land cover change was linked to the expansion of palm oil plantations from 31 km2in 1987 to 162 km2in 2007. The observed changes are shown to be related to the economic and market-oriented-development from before 1970 to the present day. Based on the future economic development plans, the Llanos Orientales will continue to undergo significant change as an estimated 70% of the 17,000 km2have been identified for conversion to plantation, or for petroleum and mining purposes. We provide recommendations for future economy integrated conservation, by proposing the implementation of a Llanos ecological network. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Colombia
  • Land-use/land-cover change
  • Llanos Orientales
  • Savannas
  • Systematic transitions

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