Land-use and environmental changes in the Cerrados of South-Eastern Mato Grosso - Brazil
Grecchi, Rosana Cristina
SubjectCerrados (Brazilian savannas)
The human-induced changes of the Earth's land surfaces have been unprecedented, with outcomes often indicating degradation and loss of environmental quality. Mato Grosso State in Brazil, location of the study area, underwent extensive land-use and land-cover changes in recent decades with the rates, patterns and consequences poorly documented until now. In this context, the aim of the present research is to propose a multidisciplinary approach for quantifying historical land-use and environmental changes in the southeast part of this State, where the Cerrado biome (Brazilian savannas) has been intensively converted into agricultural lands. The methodology includes three parts: remote sensing change detection, land vulnerability mapping, and identification of key environmental indicators. Land-use/cover information was extracted from a temporal remote sensing dataset using an object-oriented classification approach, and the changes quantified employing a post-classification method. In addition, the study area was assessed for its vulnerabilities, focusing mainly on erosion risks, wetlands, and areas with limited or no suitability for crops. Finally, key environmental indicators were identified from the preceding steps and analyzed within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Pressure-State-Response (PSR) framework. The results provided an improved mapping of the Cerrados natural vegetation conversion into crops and pastures, and indicate that the Cerrado vegetation was intensively converted and also became more fragmented in the time frame studied. Between 1985 and 2005 the area lost approximately 6491 km 2 of Cerrados (42 %). Modeling based on the Universal Soil Loss Equation indicated significant increase in erosion risk from 1985 to 2005 mainly related to the increase in crop areas and the crops' encroachment into more fragile lands.The identification of environmental indicators rendered complex environmental information more generally accessible by structuring it within the PSR framework.The indicators captured key information about land-use and environmental changes in the area, showing that agricultural expansion is the major human activity exerting pressure on natural resources at a landscape scale, and that the pattern of change included high rates of crop expansion and the use of fragile environments such as wetlands and sandy erodable soils.