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Special Issue "Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2019) | Viewed by 17530

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Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Petros Ganatsas
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Guest Editor
Laboratory of Silviculture, Department of Forestry and Natural Environment, Faculty of Geotechnical Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: biodiversity; forest ecology; forest conservation; silvicultural systems; ecosystem ecology; forest habitats; sustainable management of forest ecosystems
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forests demonstrate a high degree of biodiversity, being thought to comprise the most diverse ecosystems on land, as most of the terrestrial species in the world dwell there. Forest biodiversity is interlinked to a web of other socio-economic factors, providing an array of goods and services that range from timber and non-timber forest resources to mitigating climate change and conservation of genetic resources; therefore, it is innately linked to ecosystem and human well-being. However, forest biodiversity decrease is a crucial and ongoing environmental issue last decades. This Special Issue on Forest Biodiversity (FB) will include emerging issues for understanding FB and its conservation, such as ecological processes, disturbances, climate change and ecosystems resilience, structural complexity and ecosystem functions, ecological theories and silvicultural practices, and stability of FB. It will also include papers that focus on the indicators and methods for assessing and monitoring forest biodiversity, evaluation of practices, silvicultural treatments and management methods aiming at biodiversity conservation, conservation of forest biodiversity in protected areas, treatments of endangered or threaten forest habitats, and sustainable management of forest resources.

The continuing issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability – Series II is opening for submission now.

Prof. Dr. Petros Ganatsas
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Ecological processes and forest biodiversity
  • Forest biodiversity, climate change and ecosystems resilience
  • Indicators and methods for assessing and monitoring forest biodiversity
  • Ecological theories and silvicultural practices
  • Silvicultural treatments aiming at biodiversity conservation
  • Methods for conservation of forest biodiversity in protected areas
  • Structural complexity and ecosystem functions
  • Treatments of endangered or threaten forest habitats
  • Sustainable management of forest resources
  • Conservation and sustainable use of forest biodiversity

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
A Practical Index to Estimate Mangrove Conservation Status: The Forests from La Paz Bay, Mexico as a Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 858; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030858 - 23 Jan 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1164
Abstract
Mangrove cover has declined significantly in recent years in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. Under this scenario, it is necessary to elaborate and implement tools that allow us to make estimations on their conservation status and improve their protection and support [...] Read more.
Mangrove cover has declined significantly in recent years in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. Under this scenario, it is necessary to elaborate and implement tools that allow us to make estimations on their conservation status and improve their protection and support decision-making. This study developed an index using qualitative and quantitative data. The criterions used in the index were: (1) Remnant Vegetation Index, (2) Delphi Method Survey, and (3) Rapid Assessment Questionnaire. In turn, the weights of the criterions were defined using the analytical hierarchy process (AHP). Once the values of each criterion were obtained, the index was applied to 17 mangrove communities located in La Paz Bay, Mexico. Finally, according to their score, they were classified based on the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. The results show that five communities were ranked in the category Minor Concern, eight in Little Threatened, one in Vulnerable, one in Endangered, and two were classified as Deficiency of Data. These results are slightly different from other studies in the region and validate this index as a proper method. Therefore, it could be applied to other sites, especially in areas with little information and/or scarce monetary resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Characterization of Small Forest Landowners as a Basis for Sustainable Forestry Management in the Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins Region, Chile
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7215; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247215 - 16 Dec 2019
Viewed by 989
Abstract
Sclerophyllous forests are extremely sensitive to global warming, and the sclerophyllous forest in the possession of small forest landowners (SFLs) in the Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins Region in Chile is degraded in spite of their high ecological value. Due to the total lack [...] Read more.
Sclerophyllous forests are extremely sensitive to global warming, and the sclerophyllous forest in the possession of small forest landowners (SFLs) in the Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins Region in Chile is degraded in spite of their high ecological value. Due to the total lack of forest management, the yield obtained from native forests is very low, with highly intervened forests and intense soil erosion. The main contribution of this article is to present, for the first time, a study on the characterization and problems of 211 small forest landowners in this region of Chile. After interviewing the landowners, multivariate analysis techniques were applied to the results of the survey, which enabled four types of SFL to be identified. Differences were found in regard to the surface area of their properties and the products extracted, among others. However, they all had a similar social profile, low education level and little training in forest management, very advanced ages, a lack of initiative to create forest communities, and lack of basic services due to their isolation. The characterization of the SFLs allowed proposals to be designed for future sustainable forest management activities to help mitigate the continuous deterioration of the native forest and obtain products in a sustainable way and with greater yields, considering current legal aspects, access to subsidies, and specific forest training plans for each type of SFL. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Identifying Key Knowledge Gaps to Better Protect Biodiversity and Simultaneously Secure Livelihoods in a Priority Conservation Area
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5695; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205695 - 15 Oct 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1310
Abstract
Global agreements like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Achi Biodiversity Targets (ABTs) aim to secure human well-being and to protect biodiversity, but little progress has been made in reaching these aims. The key role of biodiversity in securing human well-being is rarely [...] Read more.
Global agreements like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Achi Biodiversity Targets (ABTs) aim to secure human well-being and to protect biodiversity, but little progress has been made in reaching these aims. The key role of biodiversity in securing human well-being is rarely considered a priority – instead short-term economic profits benefiting a few are prioritized. Particularly where local livelihoods rely on resources of protected areas for immediate survival, top-down enforced biodiversity conservation often increases social inequality, hunger and poverty and thus regularly fails. Identifying key knowledge gaps helps to adjust political priority setting and investment strategies to assess conservation threats and improve natural resource management. Since acting usually occurs at a local or regional scale, we focused on a priority conservation area in one of the world’s poorest countries — the dry deciduous forests of western Madagascar. We aimed to identify key knowledge gaps in this area which need to be filled to better protect biodiversity and simultaneously ensure well-being of the local poor. We consulted 51 predominantly Malagasy experts using questionnaires. These questionnaires listed 71 knowledge gaps we collated from the literature which the experts were asked to rank by importance. Experts were encouraged to list additional knowledge gaps. Averaging the scores of all experts, we identified the top 10 knowledge gaps. Two political knowledge gaps addressing the need to determine strategies which improve law enforcement and reduce corruption ranked highest, followed by an ecological one concerning appropriate restoration and a socio–economic one regarding economic benefits locals gain from biodiversity. The general knowledge gap perceived as most important addressed strategies for long-term funding. Only one additional knowledge gap was identified: the impact of climate change-driven human migration from southwestern to central western Madagascar on socio–economic problems and its impacts on natural resources We linked the identified top 10 knowledge gaps as well as the additional knowledge gap suggested by experts to the SDGs, ABTs and 2 °C target of the Paris Climate Agreement, and discussed why these gaps were considered a priority. This research highlights important ecological, socio–economic and political research priorities and provides guidelines for policy makers and funding organizations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Soil Organic Carbon Accumulation in Post-Agricultural Soils under the Influence Birch Stands
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4300; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164300 - 08 Aug 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 957
Abstract
The aim of this study was to demonstrate the effects birch renewal on the soil organic carbon accumulation and on dehydrogenase activity. We selected 12 research plots with birch stands of different ages (1–4 years, 5–8 years, 9–12 years, and 13–17 years) to [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to demonstrate the effects birch renewal on the soil organic carbon accumulation and on dehydrogenase activity. We selected 12 research plots with birch stands of different ages (1–4 years, 5–8 years, 9–12 years, and 13–17 years) to determine soil texture, pH, total carbon and nitrogen levels, and base cation content. The total organic carbon stock was calculated for the soil profiles. Additionally, dehydrogenase activity was determined. Naturally regenerated birch stands on post-agricultural land facilitated carbon accumulation. Based on our results, dehydrogenase activity is useful in assessing the condition of post-agricultural soils, and its determination allowed for us to assess the processes occurring in post-agricultural soils that are associated with the formation and carbon distribution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Regeneration Ecology of the Rare Plant Species Verbascum dingleri: Implications for Species Conservation
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3305; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123305 - 15 Jun 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1483
Abstract
Verbascum dingleri Mattf and Stef. is a Greek endemic plant species belonging to the family of Scrophulariaceae that only occurs in northeastern Greece, east of the city of Kavala. Knowledge of species distribution, habitat requirements, reproduction, ecology, and population characteristics is limited in [...] Read more.
Verbascum dingleri Mattf and Stef. is a Greek endemic plant species belonging to the family of Scrophulariaceae that only occurs in northeastern Greece, east of the city of Kavala. Knowledge of species distribution, habitat requirements, reproduction, ecology, and population characteristics is limited in the literature. In this study, habitat characteristics, population counts, fruit and seed diversity, and germination were studied for the first time. The results indicate that the species geographical distribution is very restricted, lying in the Mediterranean floristic zone at a low altitude (100–200 m asl) and on very shallow soils. The habitat of this species is characterized by the Csa climate type, with a mean annual precipitation of 602 mm and a mean annual temperature of 14.6 °C. The species occurs in the area lying between the geographical coordinates 40°58′16.59″ N, 24°27′54.93 E, and 41°05′7.2″ N, 24° 47′17.2″ E. The species thrives in degraded shrub communities, dominated by the shrub species Paliurus spina-cristi Mill., Olea europea L. ssp. europaea, and Quercus coccifera L. Only a very small number of individuals were found (less than 200) at a density considered too small for long-term persistence of the species. The fruits of the species contained a high number (mean value 58.2) of minute seeds. The seeds exhibited high germination (up to 80.0% in laboratory and up to 30% in ambient conditions). We conclude that in situ and ex situ species conservation and habitat restoration are feasible through the introduction of seedlings produced from seeds collected from local populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Evaluating WorldClim Version 1 (1961–1990) as the Baseline for Sustainable Use of Forest and Environmental Resources in a Changing Climate
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3043; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113043 - 29 May 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2637
Abstract
WorldClim version 1 is a high-resolution, global climate gridded dataset covering 1961–1990; a “normal” climate. It has been widely used for ecological studies thanks to its free availability and global coverage. This study aims to evaluate the quality of WorldClim data by quantifying [...] Read more.
WorldClim version 1 is a high-resolution, global climate gridded dataset covering 1961–1990; a “normal” climate. It has been widely used for ecological studies thanks to its free availability and global coverage. This study aims to evaluate the quality of WorldClim data by quantifying any discrepancies by comparison with an independent dataset of measured temperature and precipitation records across Europe. BIO1 (mean annual temperature, MAT) and BIO12 (mean total annual precipitation, MAP) were used as proxies to evaluate the spatial accuracy of the WorldClim grids. While good representativeness was detected for MAT, the study demonstrated a bias with respect to MAP. The average difference between WorldClim predictions and climate observations was around +0.2 °C for MAT and −48.7 mm for MAP, with large variability. The regression analysis revealed a good correlation and adequate proportion of explained variance for MAT (adjusted R2 = 0.856) but results for MAP were poor, with just 64% of the variance explained (adjusted R2 = 0.642). Moreover no spatial structure was found across Europe, nor any statistical relationship with elevation, latitude, or longitude, the environmental predictors used to generate climate surfaces. A detectable spatial autocorrelation was only detectable for the two most thoroughly sampled countries (Germany and Sweden). Although further adjustments might be evaluated by means of geostatistical methods (i.e., kriging), the huge environmental variability of the European environment deeply stressed the WorldClim database. Overall, these results show the importance of an adequate spatial structure of meteorological stations as fundamental to improve the reliability of climate surfaces and derived products of the research (i.e., statistical models, future projections). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Assessment of Small-Scale Ecosystem Conservation in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: A Study from Rio Canoas State Park, Southern Brazil
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2948; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102948 - 23 May 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1264
Abstract
The efficiency of the environmental management of a territory largely depends on previous surveys and systematic studies on the main elements and conditions of the physical environment. We applied remote sensing and digital image processing techniques (Principal Component Analysis and supervised classification) to [...] Read more.
The efficiency of the environmental management of a territory largely depends on previous surveys and systematic studies on the main elements and conditions of the physical environment. We applied remote sensing and digital image processing techniques (Principal Component Analysis and supervised classification) to Landsat imagery for analyzing the spatiotemporal land cover changes occurred in the Rio Canoas State Park in Brazil and its surrounding area from 1990 to 2016. Reforested areas around the park with exotic species is a part of the region’s economy and a number of industries depend on it for raw materials. However, it is a matter of concern to avoid contamination with such invasive species, due to the proximity of the Park. From 1990 to 2004, more than 95% of the study area was unchanged and showed minimal distinction in land cover over the 14 years. This was mainly due to the continuous presence of agricultural monocultures around the Park without significant increases (only 3.1% of land cover change during this period). Regarding the interior of the Rio Canoas State Park, from 1990 to 2004, there was no increase in the area of exposed soil. The analysis of the surrounding areas of the park from 2004 to 2016 showed that 5663.78 ha (12.2% of the area) of the land cover has been changed, in most areas, due to reforestation by Pinus sp. Notable changes occurred within the park (established in 2004) between 2004 and 2016—there was a partial regeneration of natural species diversity, a small number of invasive species (Pinus sp.) and removal of agricultural activities within the park, which contributed a 6.6% (75.45 ha) change in its land cover. We verified that 92.51% (1048.40 ha) of the areas inside the park were unchanged. The results demonstrated that actions were conducted to preserve the natural vegetation cover within the park and to reduce the impacts of anthropogenic activities, including the invasion of exotic species from the surrounding reforested areas into the natural habitat of the park. Given this, our study can aid the environmental management of the Park and its surrounding areas, enabling the monitoring of environmental legislation, the creation of a management plan, and can guide new action plans for the present study area and can be applied to other similar regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Relationship between Vegetation and Environment in an Arid-Hot Valley in Southwestern China
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4774; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124774 - 14 Dec 2018
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1244
Abstract
The sparse and fragile vegetation in the arid-hot valley is an important indicator of ecosystem health. Understanding the correlation between this vegetation and its environment is vital to the plant restoration. We investigated the differences of soil moisture and fertility in typical vegetation [...] Read more.
The sparse and fragile vegetation in the arid-hot valley is an important indicator of ecosystem health. Understanding the correlation between this vegetation and its environment is vital to the plant restoration. We investigated the differences of soil moisture and fertility in typical vegetation (Dodonaea viscosa and Pinus yunnanensis) under a range of elevations, slopes, and aspects in an arid-hot valley of China’s Jinsha River through field monitoring and multivariate statistical analysis. The soil moisture differed significantly between the dry and rainy seasons, and it was higher at high elevation (>1640 m) and on shade slopes at the end of the dry season. Soil fertility showed little or no variation among the elevations, but was highest at 1380 m. Dodonaea viscosa biomass increased, then decreased, with increasing elevation on the shade slopes, but decreased with increasing elevation on the sunny slopes. On the shade slopes, Pinus yunnanensis biomass was higher at low elevations (1640 m) than it was on sunny slopes, but lower at high elevation (1940 m) on the sunny slopes. We found both elevation and soil moisture were significantly positively correlated with P. yunnanensis biomass and negatively correlated with D. viscosa biomass. Thus, changes in soil moisture as a function of elevation control vegetation restoration in the arid-hot valley. Both species are adaptable indigenous plants with good social and ecological benefits, so these results will allow managers to restore the vegetation more effectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Biodiversity Observation for Land and Ecosystem Health (BOLEH): A Robust Method to Evaluate the Management Impacts on the Bundle of Carbon and Biodiversity Ecosystem Services in Tropical Production Forests
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4224; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114224 - 15 Nov 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2290
Abstract
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has initiated a new sustainability mechanism, the ecosystem-services certification. In this system, management entities who wish to be certified for the maintenance of ecosystem services (carbon, biodiversity, watershed, soil and recreational services) must verify that their activities have [...] Read more.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has initiated a new sustainability mechanism, the ecosystem-services certification. In this system, management entities who wish to be certified for the maintenance of ecosystem services (carbon, biodiversity, watershed, soil and recreational services) must verify that their activities have no net negative impacts on selected ecosystem service(s). Developing a robust and cost-effective measurement method is a key challenge for establishing a credible certification system. Using a single method to evaluate a bundle of ecosystem services will be more efficient in terms of transaction costs than using multiple methods. We tested the efficiency of a single method, “biodiversity observation for land and ecosystem health (BOLEH)”, to simultaneously evaluate biodiversity and carbon density on a landscape scale in FSC-certified tropical production forests in Sabah, Malaysia. In this method, forest intactness based on the tree-generic compositional similarity with that of a pristine forest was used as an index of biodiversity. We repeated BOLEH in 2009 and 2014 in these forests. Our analysis could detect significant spatiotemporal changes in both carbon and forest intactness during these five years, which reflected past logging intensities and current management regimes in these forests. Enhancement of these ecosystem services occurred in the forest where sustainable management with reduced-impact logging had long been implemented. In this paper, we describe the procedure of the BOLEH method, and results of the pilot test in these forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Mitigating the Effects of Climate Change through Harvesting and Planting in Boreal Forests of Northeastern China
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3531; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103531 - 01 Oct 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1710
Abstract
The ecological resilience of boreal forests is an important element of measuring forest ecosystem capacity recovered from a disturbance, and is sensitive to broad-scale factors (e.g., climate change, fire disturbance and human related impacts). Therefore, quantifying the effects of these factors is increasingly [...] Read more.
The ecological resilience of boreal forests is an important element of measuring forest ecosystem capacity recovered from a disturbance, and is sensitive to broad-scale factors (e.g., climate change, fire disturbance and human related impacts). Therefore, quantifying the effects of these factors is increasingly important for forest ecosystem management. In this study, we investigated the impacts of climate change, climate-induced fire regimes, and forest management schemes on forest ecological resilience using a forest landscape model in the boreal forests of the Great Xing’an Mountains, Northeastern China. First, we simulated the effects of the three studied variables on forest aboveground biomass, growing space occupied, age cohort structure, and the proportion of mid and late-seral species indicators by using the LANDIS PRO model. Second, we calculated ecological resilience based on these four selected indicators. We designed five simulated scenarios: Current fire only scenario, increased fire occurrence only scenario, climate change only scenario, climate-induced fire regime scenario, and climate-fire-management scenario. We analyzed ecological resilience over the five scenarios from 2000 to 2300. The results indicated that the initialized stand density and basal area information from the year 2000 adequately represented the real forest landscape of that year, and no significant difference was found between the simulated landscape of year 2010 and the forest inventory data of that year at the landscape scale. The simulated fire disturbance results were consistent with field inventory data in burned areas. Compared to the current fire regime scenario, forests where fire occurrence increased by 30% had an increase in ecological resilience of 12.4–43.2% at the landscape scale, whereas increasing fire occurrence by 200% would decrease the ecological resilience by 2.5–34.3% in all simulated periods. Under the low climate-induced fire regime scenario, the ecological resilience was 12.3–26.7% higher than that in the reference scenario across all simulated periods. Under the high climate-induced fire regime scenario, the ecological resilience decreased significantly by 30.3% and 53.1% in the short- and medium-terms at landscape scale, while increasing slightly by 3.8% in the long-term period compared to the reference scenario. Compared to no forest management scenario, ecological resilience was decreased by 5.8–32.4% under all harvesting and planting strategies for the low climate-induced fire regime scenario, and only the medium and high planting intensity scenarios visibly increased the ecological resilience (1.7–15.8%) under the high climate-induced fire regime scenario at the landscape scale. Results from our research provided insight into the future forest management and have implications for improving boreal forest sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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Article
Spatial Pattern and Factor Analyses for Forest Sustainable Development Goals within South Korea’s Civilian Control Zone
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3500; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103500 - 29 Sep 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1805
Abstract
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer specific guidelines for improving sustainable forest management, especially Goal 15. Goal 15 protects, restores and promotes the sustainable use of land ecosystems, manages forests sustainably, prevents was against desertification, stops and reverses land degradation and [...] Read more.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer specific guidelines for improving sustainable forest management, especially Goal 15. Goal 15 protects, restores and promotes the sustainable use of land ecosystems, manages forests sustainably, prevents was against desertification, stops and reverses land degradation and prevents biodiversity loss. The Civilian Control Zone (CCZ) south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea has functioned as a unique biological preserve due to traditional restrictions on human use but is now increasingly threatened by deforestation and development. We used hot spot analysis and structural equation modeling (SEM) to analyze spatial patterns of forest land use and land cover (LULC) change and variables influencing these changes, within the CCZ. Remote sensing imagery was used to develop land cover classification maps (2010 and 2016) and a GIS database was established for three change factors (topography, accessibility and socioeconomic characteristics). As a result of Hotspot analysis, Hotspots of change were distributed mainly due to agricultural activities and the development of forest and expansion of villages. Subsequent factor analysis revealed that accessibility had greater influence (−0.635) than the other factors. Among the direct factors, change to bare land had the greatest impact (−0.574) on forest change. These results shed light on forest change patterns and causes in the CCZ and provide practical data for efficient forest management in this area with regards to the SDGs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability)
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