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Remote Sens. 2018, 10(7), 996; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10070996

Landsat-Based Land Use Change Assessment in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: Forest Transition and Sugarcane Expansion

1
Image Processing Division, National Institute for Space Research, Av. dos Astronautas 1758, São José dos Campos 12227-010, Brazil
2
Remote Sensing Division, National Institute for Space Research, Av. dos Astronautas 1758, São José dos Campos 12227-010, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 March 2018 / Revised: 19 May 2018 / Accepted: 23 May 2018 / Published: 22 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Forest Cover Change)
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Abstract

In this study, we examine the hypothesis of a forest transition in an area of early expansion of the agricultural frontier over the Brazilian Atlantic Forest in the south-central part of the State of São Paulo. Large scale land use/cover changes were assessed by integrating Landsat imagery, census data, and landscape metrics. Two Landsat multi-temporal datasets were assembled for two consecutive periods—1995–2006 and 2006–2013—to assess changes in forest cover according to four classes: (i) transition from non-forest cover to planted forest (NF-PF); (ii) transition from non-forest to secondary (successional) forest (NF-SF); (iii) conservation of planted forest (PF) and (iv) conservation of forest remnants (REM). Data from the two most recent, 1995/96 and 2006 agricultural censuses were analyzed to single out major changes in agricultural production. The total area of forest cover, including primary, secondary, and planted forest, increased 30% from 1995 to 2013, whereas forest planted in non-forest areas (NF-PF) and conservation of planted forest (PF) accounted for 14.1% and 19.6%, respectively, of the total forest area by 2013. Such results showed a relatively important forest transition that would be explained mostly by forest plantations though. Analysis of the landscape metrics indicated an increase in connectivity among forest fragments during the period of study, and revealed that nearly half of the forest fragments were located within 50 m from riverbeds, possibly suggesting some level of compliance with environmental laws. Census data showed an increase in both the area and productivity of sugarcane plantations, while pasture and citrus area decreased by a relatively important level, suggesting that sugarcane production has expanded at the expense of these land uses. Both satellite and census data helped to delineate the establishment of two major production systems, the first one dominated by sugarcane plantations approximately located in the NE part of the study area, and a second one concentrating most of the forest plantations in the SW portion of the study area, where most of the forest transition could be observed. View Full-Text
Keywords: land use and land cover change (LULCC); forest transition; landscape metrics; regeneration land use and land cover change (LULCC); forest transition; landscape metrics; regeneration
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Lacerda Silva, A.; Salas Alves, D.; Pinheiro Ferreira, M. Landsat-Based Land Use Change Assessment in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: Forest Transition and Sugarcane Expansion. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 996.

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