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Evolution of Land Use in the Brazilian Amazon: From Frontier Expansion to Market Chain Dynamics

Land Dynamics Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
National Early Warning and Monitoring Centre of Natural Disasters (Cemaden), Parque Tecnológico, Av. Dr. Altino Bondensan 500, São José dos Campos 12247, Brazil
Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1087, Amsterdam 1081 HV, The Netherlands
Image Processing Division, National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Av. dos Astronautas 1758, São José dos Campos 12227, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2014, 3(3), 981-1014;
Received: 31 December 2013 / Revised: 30 July 2014 / Accepted: 7 August 2014 / Published: 19 August 2014
PDF [1978 KB, uploaded 19 August 2014]


Agricultural census data and fieldwork observations are used to analyze changes in land cover/use intensity across Rondônia and Mato Grosso states along the agricultural frontier in the Brazilian Amazon. Results show that the development of land use is strongly related to land distribution structure. While large farms have increased their share of annual and perennial crops, small and medium size farms have strongly contributed to the development of beef and milk market chains in both Rondônia and Mato Grosso. Land use intensification has occurred in the form of increased use of machinery, labor in agriculture and stocking rates of cattle herds. Regional and national demands have improved infrastructure and productivity. The data presented show that the distinct pathways of land use development are related to accessibility to markets and processing industry as well as to the agricultural colonization history of the region. The data analyzed do not provide any indication of frontier stagnation, i.e., the slowdown of agricultural expansion, in the Brazilian Amazon. Instead of frontier stagnation, the data analyzed indicate that intensification processes in consolidated areas as well as recent agricultural expansion into forest areas are able to explain the cycle of expansion and retraction of the agricultural frontier into the Amazon region. The evolution of land use is useful for scenario analysis of both land cover change and land use intensification and provides insights into the role of market development and policies on land use. View Full-Text
Keywords: land use; land distribution; accessibility; deforestation frontier; Amazon; Brazil land use; land distribution; accessibility; deforestation frontier; Amazon; Brazil

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Soler, L.S.; Verburg, P.H.; Alves, D.S. Evolution of Land Use in the Brazilian Amazon: From Frontier Expansion to Market Chain Dynamics. Land 2014, 3, 981-1014.

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