Monitoring landscape fragmentation in an inaccessible mountain area: Celaque National Park, Western Honduras.
Many protected areas across the world are in locations marginal for human uses. Debate remains about the impact of these parks on land-cover change, which may be confounded by the role played by the biophysical landscape. To test whether parks limit landscape fragmentation due to their designated protection or biophysical location, one must control for features that render the park inaccessible. We examine the effect of Celaque National Park, Honduras, on landscape fragmentation from 1987 to 2000 using remote sensing, GIS and landscape pattern analysis. Multivariate analyses of variance and covariance were conducted to examine differences in landscape fragmentation within the park and the surrounding landscape adjusting for differences in accessibility. Indicators of patch fragmentation were significantly correlated with slope, elevation and distance to roads. Different management categories within the park were found to have significant differences in land-cover change and landscape fragmentation, and the impact of management category was even more significant after accounting for the differences in accessibility that exist across these zones. Thus, the park boundaries have been important in mediating land-cover change pressures, even after accounting for the substantial differences in the accessibility of forestland for conversion to agricultural land use.