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The forest-hydrology-poverty nexus in Central America : An heuristic analysis (English)

A "forest-hydrology-poverty nexus" hypothesis asserts that deforestation in poor upland areas simultaneously threatens biodiversity and increases the incidence of flooding, sedimentation, and other damaging hydrological processes. The authors use rough heuristics to assess the applicability of this hypothesis to Central America. They do so by using a simple rule of thumb to identify watersheds at greater risk of hydrologically significant land use change: these are watersheds where there is a relatively large interface between agriculture and forest, and where this interface is on a steep slope. The authors compare the location of these watersheds with spatial maps of poverty and forests (for Guatemala and Honduras) and with maps of population and forests (for Central America at large). The analysis is performed for watersheds defined at different scales. The authors find plausible evidence for a forest-biodiversity-poverty connection in Guatemala, and to a lesser extent in Honduras. In the rest of Central America, there are relatively few areas where forest meets agriculture on steep slopes-either the forest or the slopes are lacking. And the ratio of these forest/agriculture/hillside interfaces to watershed area declines markedly as larger-scale watersheds are considered. This directs attention to relatively small watersheds for further investigation of the "nexus."


  • Author

    Chomitz,Kenneth M., Nelson,Andrew

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  • Document Type

    Policy Research Working Paper

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  • Country

    Central America,



  • Region

    Latin America & Caribbean,

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  • Doc Name

    The forest-hydrology-poverty nexus in Central America : An heuristic analysis

  • Keywords

    environment and development;deforestation;hydrological sensitivity;international food policy research institute;Gross National Income Per Capita;international centre for tropical agriculture;land use change;Land and Water Resources;Environment and Natural Resources;Centro Nacional de Registros;small watershed;land cover;loss of forest;land cover change;watershed areas;Natural Resource Management;development research group;population growth rate;steep slope;Supply of Water;agricultural research center;natural habitat loss;lack of evidence;land cover classification;level of erosion;conversion to agriculture;species of flora;social investment fund;average poverty rate;geographic information system;data collection effort;water user association;Poverty & Inequality;market for water;high poverty rate;latin american study;tropical forest fragments;effect of deforestation;land use impacts;educational attainment index;land cover type;basic human need;local watershed management;data on poverty;adult literacy rate;conversion of forest;hydrological model;watershed boundary;rural watershed;administrative level;water yield;total water;hydrological functions;agricultural land;census data;hydrological process;buffer zone;Population Density;environmental service;water quality;deforestation rate;annual deforestation;poverty datum;municipal boundaries;biodiversity loss;hydrological impacts;watershed level;hydrological effect;native forest;



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Chomitz,Kenneth M. Nelson,Andrew

The forest-hydrology-poverty nexus in Central America : An heuristic analysis (English). Policy, Research working paper series ; no. WPS 3430 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.