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Forest Clearing Dynamics and the Expansion of Landholdings in Apuí, a Deforestation Hotspot on Brazil’s Transamazon Highway

Gabriel C Carrero, Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development of Amazonas (IDESAM)
Philip M Fearnside, National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA)


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We present a local-scale case study in the Rio Juma Settlement Project (RJSP) in Apuí, a deforestation hotspot in the southern portion of Brazil’s state of Amazonas. We analyze land accumulation and land use strategies of households with a view to elucidating how their strategies are shaping deforestation. More than 76% of the household sample was from southern Brazil, and around 72% of them migrated to older expansion frontiers before reaching Apuí. The percentage of properties with legal land titles was up to five times less while land accumulation was much greater than reported for other settlement projects in Brazil. Land use change followed different patterns depending on whether the lot had been obtained with 100% forest cover or with inherited land use. Regression-tree analysis showed that the size of the cattle herd and the total area of the property do not always explain the area deforested, nor is the size of the deforested area necessarily related to productive activities. Lack of income obtained from livestock indicated that at least 30% of the cases studied were related to the speculative nature of land acquisition and deforestation. Increasing consolidation of land in larger, more highly capitalized ranches indicates the potential for high rates of deforestation in the future, even when the profitability of livestock is questionable.

Key words

Amazonia; cattle; colonization; deforestation; land speculation; land use change; livestock; LUCC; LULUCF; migration; rainforest; ranching; settlement projects

Copyright © 2011 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087