HELIYON//(VOL. 5, ISSUE 10)
Volumen: 5, Numero: 10, Páginas: p.
Ecuadorian paramo ecosystems (EPEs) function as water sources, contain large soil carbon stores and high levels of biodiversity, and support human populations. The EPEs are mainly herbaceous paramo (HP). To inform policy and management and help drive ecological science toward a better understanding of the HP ecosystem, and the relationships among its multiple ecosystem services, we asked: (1) What is the state of the HP regarding its land use/land cover (LULC)?; and (2) Is the HP being pushed away from its natural state or it is regenerating? To answer these questions, we assessed the LULC in central EPEs using Landsat 8 imagery, Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA) and a Classification and Regression Trees (CART) algorithm. Results show that two-fifths of the paramo ecosystem remain as native HP (NHP) and two-fifths as anthropogenic HP (AHP). Although the anthropic alteration of the pedogenesis of young paramo soil leads to the establishment of AHP, we found evidence of regeneration and resilience of the NHP. The results of this study will be useful to scientists and decision-makers with interest in paramo ecosystems in central Ecuador. The proposed methodology is simple, fast, and could be implemented in other landscapes to establish comprehensive monitoring systems useful in landscape assessment and planning.