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Land 2015, 4(1), 45-82;

Integrating Forest Cover Change with Census Data: Drivers and Contexts from Bolivia and the Lao PDR

Department of Geography and Environment, University of Geneva, Uni Mail, 40 Bd du Pont-dʼArve, Genève 4, CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre, National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Av. dos Astronautas, 1758, CEP 12201-027 São José dos Campos (SP), Brazil
Institut de Géographie et Durabilité, University of Lausanne, Mouline—Géopolis, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Centre for Development and Environnment & Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Hallerstrasse 10, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
Instituto de Investigaciones Geográficas, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Cota Cota, Calle 27 La Paz, Bolivia
Faculty of Forestry, National University of Laos, Dongdok, Xaythany District, Vientiane, Laos
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Eugenio Arima
Received: 1 August 2014 / Accepted: 12 December 2014 / Published: 20 January 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Change Modeling: Connecting to the Bigger Picture)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [10331 KB, uploaded 20 January 2015]   |  


The aim of this paper is to explore possible links between forest cover change and characteristics of social-ecological systems at sub-national scale based mainly on census data. We assessed relationships between population density, poverty, ethnicity, accessibility and forest cover change during the last decade for four regions of Bolivia and the Lao PDR, combining a parcel-based with a cell-based approach. We found that accessibility is a key driver of forest cover change, yet it has the effect of intensifying other economic and policy-related underlying drivers, like colonization policies, cash crop demand, but also policies that lead to forest gain in one case. Poverty does not appear as a driver of deforestation, but the co-occurrence of poverty and forest loss driven by external investments appears critical in terms of social-ecological development. Ethnicity was found to be a moderate explanatory of forest cover change, but appears as a cluster of converging socio-economic characteristics related with settlement history and land resource access. The identification of such clusters can help ordering communities into a typology of social-ecological systems, and discussing their possible outcomes in light of a critical view on forest transition theory, as well as the relevance and predictive power of the variables assessed. Résumé: L’objectif de cet article est d’explorer les liens entre le changement de la couverture forestière et les caractéristiques des systèmes socio-écologiques à l’échelle nationale, principalement à l’aide de données de recensement. Nous avons évalué les relations entre la densité de population, la pauvreté, l’ethnicité, l’accessibilité et le changement de la couverture forestière pendant la dernière décennie pour quatre régions de Bolivie et du Laos, en combinant des approches par parcelles et par cellules. Nous avons constaté que l’accessibilité est un facteur clé du changement de la couverture forestière, tandis qu’elle a pour effet d'intensifier d'autres facteurs économiques et politiques sous-jacents, comme les politiques de colonisation, la demande de cultures de rente, mais aussi, dans un cas, des politiques conduisant à un accroissement de la forêt. La pauvreté n’apparait pas comme un facteur de déforestation, mais la co-occurrence de la pauvreté et de la perte de forêt entrainée par les investissements extérieurs semble critique en termes de développement socio-écologique. L'ethnicité se révèle être modérément explicative du changement de la couverture forestière, mais elle apparait comme un ensemble de caractéristiques socio-économiques convergentes liées à l'histoire de l’implantation humaine et à l'accès aux ressources foncières. L'identification de tels ensembles peut aider à classer les communautés selon une typologie des systèmes socio-écologiques, et à discuter leurs possibles impacts sur la forêt avec un point de vue critique sur la théorie de la transition forestière, ainsi que la pertinence et la puissance prédictive des variables évaluées. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest cover change; deforestation; integrative land change science; social-ecological systems; meso-scale; forest transitions; rural poverty; Bolivia; Laos forest cover change; deforestation; integrative land change science; social-ecological systems; meso-scale; forest transitions; rural poverty; Bolivia; Laos

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Boillat, S.; Dao, H.; Bottazzi, P.; Sandoval, Y.; Luna, A.; Thongmanivong, S.; Lerch, L.; Bastide, J.; Heinimann, A.; Giraut, F. Integrating Forest Cover Change with Census Data: Drivers and Contexts from Bolivia and the Lao PDR. Land 2015, 4, 45-82.

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