Linking spatial patterns of land-use to agents of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

by Borrego Lorena, Rodrigo

Abstract (Summary)
Changes in land use and land cover are associated with many environmental issues observed on the earth’s surface. In the last decades, these changes were unprece-dented, mainly in tropical forest areas. The Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest, lost around 200.000 km² of primary forest in the last ten years (INPE, 2005). Considering this, and the consequences caused by this deforestation, it is important to know and define correctly the responsible agents, aiming at better pub-lic policies that can help preserve the forest. Searching for indicators that could help to identify the deforestation agents, some studies, such as Mertens and Lambin (1997), suggest that every deforestation process shapes the forest land in a specific way, producing a spatial pattern that can be interpreted as indicative of the agents with specific economic activities. Based on this hypothesis, the objective of this study was to contribute to a better understanding of land change processes in the Amazon forest, investigating the linkages between spatial patterns of deforestation, as visualized in satellite images, and different agents and their specific economic activities. To reach this objective, our methodological approach was based on socio-economic data acquired at a household level combined with data from satellite im-ages. First, different spatial patterns of deforestation were identified on the satellite images, based on the typologies proposed by Husson et al. (1995). Then, some of the identified spatial patterns were isolated and analyzed for specific aspects, such as, the deforestation rate calculated through satellite images. socio-economic character-istics based on household survey data and evolution of land use and land cover based on thematic maps derived from satellite images. In addition, cluster analysis was applied using the socio-economic data (household survey) and land use and land cover data (satellite images) in a search for homogeneous groups related to the spa-tial pattern. In the end, an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was applied to confirm the differences between spatial patterns. The results suggested that the different spatial patterns of deforestation found in the study area can be related to specific economic activities. Nevertheless, the re-sults have indicated that the spatial configuration is not a consequence of its main economic activity. They suggest that the spatial configuration is linked to the settle-ment project, and the main economic activity in the spatial patterns is a consequence of a set of factors such as: size of property, location and disposition of the property, presence or absence of infrastructure (road, market, transportation, economic and technical).
Bibliographical Information:


School:Université catholique de Louvain

School Location:Belgium

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:remote sensing tropical deforestation brazilian amazon land use cover change gis linking people to pixel


Date of Publication:04/09/2008

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