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Institute Hosts Land Use Change Modelling Workshop


Nature and Man have an enormous influence on the way the land is used. Creating models that show the changes in land-use help us understand how complex and delicate the different elements that make up spatial systems are.

One of ERI’s newest project aims to assess the potential impacts of climate change on Belize’s water resources. Under this project, the ERI in conjunction with the Centro del Agua del Trópico Húmedo para América Latina y El Caribe (CATHALAC) hosted its first capacity building workshop focused on teaching participants to use IDRISI Land Change Modeler for land cover scenario generation.

A total of thirteen representatives from both governmental and non-governmental sectors participated in the workshop conducted from the 17th – 19th of September. The workshop was led by Emil Cherrington, Senior Scientist at CATHALAC, alongside Dr. Elma Kay (ERI Terrestrial Science Director), and Ivanna Waight-Cho (ERI Monitoring Officer).

The workshop began with an introduction to land use change modeling followed by tutorials on establishing the model, and determining deforestation drivers. IDRISI allows users to input several drivers (characteristics) of land use change such as elevation, soil type and distance maps in order to generate landscape scenarios. These scenarios show changes that may occur to land cover in the future based on the drivers inputted and it also illustrates which driver is more accountable for the possible changes.

Practical exercises involved the generation of transition potential maps which show the susceptibility of forest to future deforestation and maps that show land use in a specific time in the future. The workshop also covered land use change scenarios, the customizing of future scenarios, calculating greenhouse gas emissions from future deforestation and other functions of the land use change modeler. On the final day of the workshop, participants were allowed to use the modeler to input data from an area of interest and repeat the steps that were learned and practiced.

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