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Landscape Change and Land-Use/Land-Cover Dynamics in Rondônia, Brazilian Amazon

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: Batistella, Mateus
Date: 2001
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9877
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: South America
Subject(s): landscape change
Abstract: "Deforestation and colonization processes within the Brazilian Amazon have attracted substantial attention since the early 1970s. The phenomenon has been associated with issues related to global change, alteration of biogeochemical cycles, land-use/land-cover (LULC) dynamics, and biodiversity losses. This dissertation focuses on an area of approximately 3,000 km within the State of Rondonia in western Amazon. Two adjacent settlements of similar age, similar biophysical features, and similar assets among colonists were compared to assess the role of their different architectural and institutional designs in LULC dynamics and landscape change. Vale do Anari was planned as an orthogonal road network system. The majority of Rondonia was colonized following this scheme. Machadinho d'Oeste was designed with attention to topography in laying out the grid of farm properties and included communal reserves with right-of-use to local rubber tappers. Field research was undertaken in conjunction with the use of multi-temporal remotely sensed data (1988-1998), GIS integration, and landscape ecology methods. The results indicate that the communal reserves play an important role in maintaining lower levels of fragmentation in Machadinho, where 66% of forest cover remained in 1998 (after 15 years of colonization), in comparison with just 51% in Anari. Without the reserves, forest cover in Machadinho is also 51%. Although analyses at the property level showed that the area deforested per property per year is the same in both settlements for the entire time period of study, in Anari the rate of deforestation was lower before 1988 and higher between 1994 and 1998. Also, pasture conversion is more significant in the fishbone scheme of Anari. Analyses of landscape structure confirmed that Machadinho is less fragmented, more complex, and more interspersed. The combination of privately based decisions for the properties and community-based decisions for the reserves clearly indicates that this architectural and institutional design can produce positive social and environmental outcomes. By comparing different settlement designs, this dissertation contributes to the rethinking of colonization strategies in the Amazon."

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