Anthropogenic impacts on Roatán, Honduras: Years of land-cover and land-use change
The Caribbean island, Roatán, Honduras, has experienced an 80-fold increase in annual tourists since the 1990s, with over 1.2 million people now visiting the island yearly. In tandem, the island’s population has exploded from fewer than 13,000 people in the 1970s to over 100,000 people today. Using broadband remote sensed satellite imagery, this paper maps and measures the island’s landscape change during recent decades characterized by a massive influx of tourists and rapid population growth. Results from a decision tree classifying technique applied to a Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) image from 1985 and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) image from 2014 suggest a vertiginous pace of urbanization; built and impervious surface has increased over 300% in the last 30 years. This rapid urbanization has serious implications for the island’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems, tourism sustainability, and public health.