The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Sean Sloan

Sean Sloan, The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, and The University of Melbourne, Australia

“Combining Satellite Imagery and Census Data to Show How Socio-Economic Development Encourages Forest Regeneration in Panama”

Category: Plant Conservation: 2009

In Panama, deforested lands are left to reforest for up to 10 years before being re-cleared for agriculture.  This creates uncertainty as to how much of the observed regeneration is authentic and whether it might mitigate tropical biodiversity loss.  New forest regeneration has been recently observed in Panama for the period 1990-2000.  This could be good news for endangered forest species and climate.   However, the National Authority for the Environment (NAE) needs significant information in order to formulate new environmental-economic policy to actively promote such regeneration.  Mr. Sloan intends to use satellite and related computer technology to observe forest regeneration, map the regeneration in Panama since 1980, quantify biodiversity preservation resulting from regeneration, and quantify the influence of socio-economic development on forest regeneration.  By doing this, he hopes to reveal if, how and where socio-economic development promotes tropical forest regeneration, and to what extent such regeneration might conserve tropical biodiversity.  The topic is of critical importance to Panama, as deforestation rates are falling and areas being reforested are expanding country-wide.  However, regional differences are evident, and the causes of regeneration uncertain.  The results of this study will be used to inform public policymakers in Panama about how social trends might be harnessed and re-directed to protect and expand forest cover as well as alleviate poverty.


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