Analysing Latin American and Caribbean forest vulnerability from socio-economic factors

2017-11-27T12:40:11Z (GMT) by Rhys Manners Consuelo Varela-Ortega
<p>Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) forest cover reduced by 9% from 1990 to 2015, affecting biodiversity, climate change mitigation and ecosystem service functionality. These losses are caused by a myriad of interconnected, interdependent and often socio-economic processes, which forest vulnerability metrics largely ignore in their assessments. To address this, we develop the Deforestation Vulnerability Index (DVI) to identify spatial and temporal patterns of forest vulnerability from socio-economic processes. Composed of 13 socio-economic indicators, the DVI was applied to 24 LAC countries, and three provincial (sub-national) examples for the period 2000–2010. The DVI showed that vulnerability declined in more than 60% of countries, due to governance improvements and reductions in agricultural expansion. Provincial application of the index showed provinces to be more vulnerable than countries, due largely to higher economic dependence upon agriculture. Observed vulnerability reductions, whilst deforestation continues, may demonstrate a lag between socio-economic improvements and subsequent deforestation reductions, or the effects of omitted or unidentified vulnerability indicators. The DVI represents a simple, yet effective tool whose outputs could be used by policy-makers and stakeholders to source vulnerability at the scale of application, whilst assisting in directing reactive and responsive sustainable forest management strategies and decision-making.</p>