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Ecología austral

On-line version ISSN 1667-782X


PENA-CORTES, Fernando et al. Landscape Dynamics for the period 1980-2004 in the Budi River and Lake coastal basin, Chile: Considerations for the conservation of its wetlands. Ecol. austral [online]. 2006, vol.16, n.2, pp.183-196. ISSN 1667-782X.

The landscape corresponds to a complex, open, space-time system, intermediate between nature and society. Its conditions and dynamics are determined by natural processes and human presence in which local and regional alterations modify ecological processes and patterns of biodiversity. Conspicuous in the Budi lake/river basin landscape are continental wetlands and marshy bodies of water and forests. Conflicts have arisen due to substitution and land-use change. Using the framework and scale of analysis of landscape ecology, the landscape dynamics of the Budi lake/river basin has been analyzed as an input for ecological planning of this area and conservation of its wetlands. Studies of variation of areas destined for different uses and land cover, as well as rate of change starting from category maps drawn up on the basis of photo-interpretation of aerial photographs of the area under study taken in 1980, 1994 and 2004, were done. Eight landscape types were identified, starting from previously drawn up classifications of ground cover and land-use. We also evaluated the variation in landscape patterns through the application of 21 measuring processes related to typology and surface, perimeters, shapes, diversity, aggregation and adjacency as indicators of landscape dynamics and evolution, which were applied in three levels: patches, classes and total landscape area. Among others, results showed a significant increase of the area of riverside wetlands (3,039.7 hectares in 1980 compared to 4,384.8 hectares in 2004), and a decrease in clear- water surface area. Furthermore, in the last 30 years there were increases in forestry plantations, of 17.6% between 1980 and 1994, and of 27.2% between 1994 and 2004; meanwhile, farming and cattle-raising have steadily decreased. Also, an increase in the number of patches and a decrease in their average size (except for wetlands), an increase in the total perimeters, and a decrease of distances between neighbours were assessed; all of which points to a landscape which is undergoing a process of fragmentation, with patches interspersed within the dominant pattern. The analysis carried out defines a system of wetlands having high connectivity with the contributing watersheds, spatial heterogeneity and intermixing of classes, in which current watershed uses are affecting the evolution of riverside areas. These indicates the extent of alteration of the system as well as the importance of the anthropogenic variable in its evolution; factors to be taken into account during the decision-making process of future proposals for land-use regulations involving control of sedimentation, protection of vegetation and maintaining connectivity.

Keywords : Landscape; Landscape patterns; Ecological planning; Wetlands conservation; Land use change.

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