Assessing Landscape Change in a Mining Area of the Peruvian Andes. A Case Study in The Yanacocha Mine, Cajamarca
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This study examines physical and perceived landscape change in a mining area in northern Peru. Mining conflicts between companies and local people have intensified; this highlights the necessity of a better understanding of environmental and social consequences of mining activities. Landscape studies could be relevant to understand such problematic. I aim to assess the landscape change in a mining area by (1) mapping the physical landscape change and (2) surveying the local landscape people’s perception of the physical landscape change. I approach the material dimension through spatial-regional interpretation of diachronic aerial-photos to produce Land cover-Land use maps and to allow further temporal comparison towards change detection in a GIS environment. The mental dimension was surveyed through the analysis of semi-structured interviews of the people who were living in the area of the mine and who lives now on its surroundings. The material landscape analysis shows a change rate of 75% in seven years (1993-2000) in the whole study area; and of 52% in areas outside the mining facilities. This is mainly from the conversion of seminatural grassland into mining and sparse grassland. These results correlated positively with local people’s perception of environmental transformations, as the dramatic reduction of basic livelihood resources such as grassland and water. Most informants report loss of practices, customs and identity. The study provides empirical and theoretical support to approaches combining GIS mapping and perception surveys in the study of landscape change.