Systems Laboratory Project: An Innovation in International
Arturo Sanchez of the University of Alberta is leading
developments in the area of tropical dry forest
management and environmental preservation in response
to the impacts of free trade and globalization in
Latin America. Tropical dry forests account for
over 42 percent of the world’s tropical forest growth
and they are an intrinsic part of services provided
by nature to all humans. They play a critical role
in global warming and act as carbon sinks to promote
globally clean air. Tropical dry forests are unique
in the ability to support rapid species growth and
Sanchez is involved in a collaborative research
project called the Earth Observation Systems Laboratory
(EOSL), aimed at strategically mapping out issues
of land use and land cover change, developing geologic
remote sensing applications and developing conservation
nets and customized environmental preservation strategies
through local, national and international partnerships.
Lapse image of Costa Rican rain forest.
Green indicates deforested areas.
Sanchez is developing tools and techniques to detect
and document tropical dry forests. He is working in
collaboration with the Costa Rican National Forest Fund
to curb deforestation and promote sustainable developments
in the country. With the support of the University
of Alberta MACI server, Sanchez has researched how the
current Costa Rican National Biodiversity inventory
(ca. two million records of tropical species) can be
integrated through remote sensing platforms and geographic
information systems to better understand the impact
of deforestation on tropical biodiversity.
impact of these research developments, tools and techniques
is already making its mark. Not only has the research
provided the infrastructure and strategies for the sustainable
development of national forest environments in Costa
Rica but the strategies are now moving beyond the Costa
Rican borders. The Panamanian government has approached
Dr Sanchez to lead it in documenting and developing
national forestry preservation strategies in the country.
Sanchez is also working closely with U.S. institutions,
such as the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. NASA’s
Mesoamerican Biological Corridor project, building towards
development of regional land cover monitoring prototypes.
The intention is, through education, training and documentation
of local species, to achieve a long-term sustainable
computer size and capacity needed to host this biodiversity
database and myriad of GIS mapping images is provided
by MACI. In this way, MACI plays an important role in
enabling partnerships on a local, national and international
level. Dr Sanchez and his University of Alberta partners
continue to pioneer the development of the Earth Observation
Systems Laboratory to provide a solid foundation for
research collaborations and developments, relying on
MACI for advanced computing support.
Daily, P. Ehrlich, and G.A. Sánchez-Azofeifa. Countryside
biogeography: Utilization of human-dominated habitats
by the avifauna of southern Costa Rica, Ecological
Applications, Accepted, 2000.
Pfaff, S. Kerr, F. Hughes, S. Liu, G.A. Sanchez-Azofeifa,
D. Schimel, J. Tosi, V. Watson. The Kyoto protocol
and payments for tropical forest: Estimating the supply
of carbon sequestration offsets, and increasing the
feasibility of a carbon market under the Clear Development
Mechanism, Ecological Economics, Accepted,
Sanchez-Azofeifa. Land use and cover change in Costa
Rica: a geographic perspective. In: Quantifying Sustainable
Development, C.Hall, L. Leon, P. Van Laake (Eds.),
Columbia University Press. 477-505. In-Press,
Carlson, and G.A. Sanchez-Azofeifa. Satellite Remote
Sensing of Land Use and Surface Microclimate Changes
in and Around San Jose, Costa Rica, Remote
Sensing of the Environment, 70:247-256, 1999.
Sanchez-Azofeifa, C. Quesada-Mateo, P. Gonzalez-Quesada,
S. Dayanandan, & K. Bawa. Protected areas and
conservation of biodiversity in the tropics, Conservation
Biology, Vol. 13, No. 2, 407-411, 1999.
Boscolo, S. Kerr, A. Pfaff, G.A. Sanchez-Azofeifa. What
role for tropical forest in climate change mitigation?
The case of Costa Rica. Harvard Institute for International
Development – Harvard University, Development
discussion paper No. 675, Central America Project
Series, 39 pp, 2000.