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Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 606;

Assessing the Spatial and Occupation Dynamics of the Brazilian Pasturelands Based on the Automated Classification of MODIS Images from 2000 to 2016

Image Processing and GIS Laboratory (LAPIG), Federal University of Goiás (UFG), Goiânia GO 74001-970, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 March 2018 / Revised: 31 March 2018 / Accepted: 4 April 2018 / Published: 14 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Google Earth Engine Applications)
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The pasturelands areas of Brazil constitute an important asset for the country, as the main food source for the world’s largest commercial herd, representing the largest stock of open land in the country, occupying ~21% of the national territory. Understanding the spatio-temporal dynamics of these areas is of fundamental importance for the goal of promoting improved territorial governance, emission mitigation and productivity gains. To this effect, this study mapped, through objective criteria and automatic classification methods (Random Forest) applied to MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) images, the totality of the Brazilian pastures between 2000 and 2016. Based on 90 spectro-temporal metrics derived from the Red, NIR and SWIR1 bands and distinct vegetation indices, distributed between dry and wet seasons, a total of 17 pasture maps with an approximate overall accuracy of 80% were produced with cloud-computing (Google Earth Engine). During this period, the pasture area varied from ~152 (2000) to ~179 (2016) million hectares. This expansion pattern was consistent with the bovine herd variation and mostly occurred in the Amazon, which increased its total pasture area by ~15 million hectares between 2000 and 2005, while the Cerrado, Caatinga and Pantanal biomes showed an increase of ~8 million hectares in this same period. The Atlantic Forest was the only biome in which there was a retraction of pasture areas throughout this series. In general, the results of this study suggest the existence of two relevant moments for the Brazilian pasture land uses. The first, strongly supported by the opening of new grazing areas, prevailed between 2000 and 2005 and mostly occurred in the Deforestation Arc and in the Matopiba regions. From 2006 on, the total pasture area in Brazil showed a trend towards stabilization, indicating a slight intensification of livestock activity in recent years. View Full-Text
Keywords: MODIS; Random Forest; pasture mapping; Brazilian pasturelands dynamics MODIS; Random Forest; pasture mapping; Brazilian pasturelands dynamics

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Parente, L.; Ferreira, L. Assessing the Spatial and Occupation Dynamics of the Brazilian Pasturelands Based on the Automated Classification of MODIS Images from 2000 to 2016. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 606.

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