Human Impacts

Survival analysis of a neotropical rainforest using multitemporal satellite imagery


This example project is an analysis of deforestation at a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Parque National Yasunı´, located in the rainforests of eastern Ecuador using multitemporal Landsat TM and ETM+ satellite imagery. Using survival analysis, we assessed both current and future trends in deforestation rates, and investigated the impact of spatial, cultural, and economic factors on deforestation.

ecuador map

These factors included the distance from roads, rivers, research facilities, oil facilities, markets and towns, and land ownership by colonists, native inhabitants, and an oil company. We found the annual rate of deforestation is currently only 0.11%, but that this rate is increasing with time and, assuming that the trend of increasing rate of forest loss continues, we would predict that by 2063, 50% of the forest within 2 km of an oil access road will be lost to unhindered colonization and anthropogenic conversion.

 survival analysis table results ecuador

The Quechua colonists are associated with areas of the highest rate of deforestation, followed by the native Huaorani and the lowest region of deforestation was in areas occupied by a local oil company. By far, the strongest predictor of where deforestation is predicted to occur was proximity to the road.

deforestation map ecuador

Proximity to research sites, oil facilities, market, and rivers  significantly decreases deforestation rates, and proximity to towns significantly increases deforestation rates.

ecuador remaining forest per year prediction

Plot of predicted remaining forest (in ha) within 2 km of the Via Pompeya-Iro vs. year.


Jonathan Asher Greenberg(a), Shawn C. Kefauver(b), Hugh C. Stimson(c), Corey J. Yeaton(b), Susan L. Ustin(b)

aNASA Ames Research Centre, United States
bUniversity of California, Davis, United States
cConservation Research Center, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, United States


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