Understanding protected areas: an analysis of drivers of forest loss and conservation trends

dc.contributor.authorPowlen, Kathryn Ann, author
dc.contributor.authorGavin, Michael, advisor
dc.contributor.authorBoone, Randall, committee member
dc.contributor.authorJones, Kelly, committee member
dc.contributor.authorSolomon, Jennifer, committee member
dc.description2022 Spring.
dc.descriptionIncludes bibliographical references.
dc.description.abstractGlobal forests harbor much of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, provide critical ecosystem services, and directly support the livelihoods of over a billion people. Nonetheless, forest cover continues to decline rapidly, largely due to human-driven land use changes, such as conversion for agriculture, urban expansion, and increased forest market demands. Protected areas are one of the most common conservation tools used to counter global forest loss. However, forest conversion has been found to persist in protected areas globally. Understanding the diverse factors driving forest cover change in protected area is critical for ensuring forest conservation success. This dissertation contributes evidence to help advance our understanding of protected area performance through three empirical manuscripts. Each manuscript uses a unique approach to examine drivers of conservation outcomes in protected areas at different scales. All three manuscripts are focused on Mexico's protected area network. The first manuscript uses a machine learning approach – random forest regression – to identify the main drivers of deforestation in protected areas across Mexico. By comparing the relative importance of multiple socioeconomic, biophysical, and protected area design characteristics in driving forest loss, this manuscript highlights the important role that placement characteristics, such as topography and proximity to development, can play in protected area conservation success. Additionally, results from this manuscript demonstrate the nonlinearity of the relationships between most forest loss predictors and observed deforestation. The second manuscript uses a propensity score matching approach to quantify the influence of protected area management effectiveness on forest loss outcomes in protected areas across Mexico. This manuscript finds critical evidence that protected areas with high levels of management effectiveness reduce forest loss to a greater extent than those with lower management effectiveness. This manuscript also finds that multiple dimensions of management, such as effective planning, collaborative decision-making, equitable benefit sharing, as well as sufficient financial and human resources, can contribute to the reduction of forest loss. The final manuscript examines how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced protected areas and conservation outcomes across Mexico. This manuscript measures protected area managers' perceptions of the impacts of the pandemic on protected area inputs, mechanisms, moderators, and non-compliance. We find a perceived decrease in human capacity, monitoring capacity, and tourism, and an increase in a number of non-compliant activities in 2020 compared to 2019. Understanding how protected areas are impacted by unexpected global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic is critical for building more resilient protected area networks in the future. Together the three manuscripts demonstrate the range of factors that can influence protected area performance, including landscape characteristics, protected area management practices, and global events. By advancing our understanding of the factors influencing protected area performance, we can improve conservation planning, more strategically allocate resources, and more proactively protect key biodiversity areas in the future.
dc.format.mediumborn digital
dc.format.mediumdoctoral dissertations
dc.publisherColorado State University. Libraries
dc.rightsCopyright and other restrictions may apply. User is responsible for compliance with all applicable laws. For information about copyright law, please see https://libguides.colostate.edu/copyright.
dc.titleUnderstanding protected areas: an analysis of drivers of forest loss and conservation trends
dcterms.rights.dplaThis Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights (https://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/). You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).
thesis.degree.disciplineHuman Dimensions of Natural Resources
thesis.degree.grantorColorado State University
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
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