Although this cause-and-effect finding seems fairly straightforward, the issue of deforestation in the Amazon is more complex and more devastating than previously believed, said Marcelus Caldas, an assistant professor of geography at Kansas State University.
Caldas and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin and Michigan State University published their findings in a recent issue of the environmental science journal, Environmental Research Letters. Their study, "Statistical confirmation of indirect land use change in the Brazilian Amazon," looks at how mechanized agriculture in Brazil affects the country's forest in the Amazon, which is the second largest forest in the world.
Using data from 2003-2008, the team statistically linked the loss of forest area as the indirect effect of changing pastureland into space for soybean and biofuel crops in counties bordering the Amazon. Caldas, who grew up in Brazil, said this finding wasn't too surprising as most Brazilians are aware of the issue. What is shocking, however, is how much of an effect this is having on forests, he said.
"Between 2003-2008 soy production expanded in Brazil by 39,000 square kilometers," Caldas said. "Of this 39,000 square kilometers, our study shows that reducing soybean production by 10 percent in these pasture areas could decrease deforestation in heavily forested counties of the Brazilian Amazon by almost 26,000 square kilometers -- or 40 percent."
Caldas said he hopes this link between crops and deforestation will motivate Brazil's environmental policymakers to develop more dynamic agricultural regulations to slow deforestation.
Although the numbers and data back this connection, the notion that deforestation will cease completely is unlikely because of other complexities like money and livestock. Demand for Brazil's crops is high and there's a desire to produce more for buyers.
"In the international market, China is buying a lot of soybeans from Brazil," Caldas said.
The Brazilian government says soybean and sugarcane are grown largely in degraded pasture, but data from the team's work with geographic information systems, or GIS, shows that many of these crops have crept into the Brazilian savanna, a large area bordering the Amazon that's used for cattle. Consequently, this has created deforestation in the savanna, driving cattle inside the Amazon.
"Our data shows that the Amazon now has 79 million heads of cattle," Caldas said. "Fifteen years ago, it had less than 10 million. That means that there's a problem with cattle moving inside the forest."
A problem is brewing in the near future, too. As the world's population grows and buyers look for countries where food is produced less expensively, more grain crops are expected to transition to Brazil because it is a breadbasket, according to Caldas.
"Because of that, Brazil is going to say they can increase crops here because there's going to be a demand for food," he said. "So if they start to increase food production, it's all going to directly affect deforestation in the Amazon."
Funding for the team's work has come from the National Science Foundation and NASA. Caldas and his colleagues have spent more than 15 years studying Brazil's countryside.
Marcelus Caldas, 785-532-6727, email@example.com
Marcelus Caldas | Newswise Science News
Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering