Spatial patterns over a 24-year period show an increase in native vegetation cover and decreased fragmentation in Andean temperate landscapes, Chile
R. Petitpas, J.T. Ibarra, M. Miranda, and C. Bonacic. 2016. Spatial patterns in a 24-year period show a case of increase forest cover and decrease fragmentation in Andean temperate landscapes, Chile. Cien. Inv. Agr. 43(3):384-395. Changes in landscape pattern were studied in a temperate landscape of the La Araucanía Region, Chile. Using aerial photographs from 1983 and 2007, we created land use/land cover maps. We then quantified the changes in composition and configuration by using landscape metrics and an adjacency matrix. By 2007, the dominant land cover had changed from agriculture to native vegetation. Residential areas showed the largest relative increase (670%) and had significant adjacency with native vegetation. The native vegetation increased by 375 ha, but the number of patches decreased by 45% and the mean patch area increased by 124%, which indicated that fragmentation decreased. The growth of tourism and the preference for "natural" spaces by new residents are suggested as the main drivers of this native vegetation recovery. Understanding the process of forest recovery may be helpful for reversing the general trend of forest loss in temperate forests of South America. This research is a first approach in exploring specific cases of native vegetation recovery and decreases in fragmentation in this Global Biodiversity Hotspot.