Category: Mapping Landscape Changes and Species Distribution
Project Team: El Salvador Ecological Forecasting II
Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center – Hampton, Virginia
Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA Langley Research Center)
Emily Adams (Center Lead)
Tropical forests are vital ecosystems because of their rich biodiversity and carbon sequestration abilities. Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, these forests are threatened by deforestation and forest degradation and are in need of comprehensive management strategies. The conservation of forests is not only vital for biodiversity but also for the ecosystem services they provide. The micro-region of La Mancomunidad La Montañona in Chalatenango, El Salvador, is a hilly area with a population dependent upon subsistence and livestock farming, often utilizing slash and burn agricultural techniques. Using NASA Earth observations in collaboration with El Salvador’s ministry of the environment, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN), the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Agroforestry for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (ABES) Project, a methodology was developed for stakeholders and policymakers to monitor long-term changes in forest cover and predict significant changes in woody forest biomass. A baseline time series showing forest cover and land use/land cover (LULC) from December 1986 to January 2016 was used to forecast forest cover change through the year 2030. These predictions will allow stakeholders to identify at-risk regions to focus forest conservation efforts and management strategies.