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Geographic patterns of land use and land intensity in the Brazilian Amazon

Author

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  • Chomitz, Kenneth M.
  • Thomas, Timothy S.

Abstract

Using census data from the Censo Agropecuario 1995-96, the authors map indicators of current land use, and agricultural productivity across Brazil's Legal Amazon, These data permit geographical resolution about ten times finer than afforded by"municipio"data, used in previous studies. The authors focus on the extent, and productivity of pasture, the dominant land use in Amazonia today. Simple tabulations suggest that most agricultural land in Amazonia yields little private economic value. Nearly ninety percent of agricultural land is either devoted to pasture, or has been out of use for more than four years. About forty percent of the currently used pastureland, has a stocking ratio of less that 0.5 cattle per hectare. Tabulations also show a skewed distribution of land ownership: almost half of Amazonian farmland is located in the one percent of properties that contain more than two thousand hectares. Multivariate analyses relate forest conversion, and pasture productivity to precipitation, soil quality, infrastructure, and market access, proximity to past conversion, and protection status. The authors find precipitation to have a strong deterrent effect on agriculture. The probability that land is currently claimed, or used for agriculture, or intensively stocked with cattle, declines substantially with increasing precipitation levels, holding other factors (such as road access) constant. Proxies for land abandonment are also higher in high rainfall areas. Together these findings suggest that the wetter Western Amazon is inhospitable to exploitation for pasture, using current technologies. On the other hand, land conversion, and stocking rates are positively correlated with proximity to past clearing. This suggests that in the areas of active deforestation in eastern Amazonia, the frontier is not :hollow:, and land use intensifies over time. But this area remains a mosaic of lands with higher, and lower potential agricultural value.

Suggested Citation

  • Chomitz, Kenneth M. & Thomas, Timothy S., 2001. "Geographic patterns of land use and land intensity in the Brazilian Amazon," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2687, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2687
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Powell, James L, 1986. "Symmetrically Trimmed Least Squares Estimation for Tobit Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1435-1460, November.
    2. Chomitz, Kenneth M & Gray, David A, 1996. "Roads, Land Use, and Deforestation: A Spatial Model Applied to Belize," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 487-512, September.
    3. Powell, James L., 1984. "Least absolute deviations estimation for the censored regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-325, July.
    4. Schneider, R-R, 1995. "Government and the Economy on the Amazon Frontier," Papers 11, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
    5. Pfaff, Alexander S.P., 1997. "What drives deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon? Evidence from satellite and socioeconomic data," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1772, The World Bank.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pacheco, Pablo, 2009. "Agrarian Reform in the Brazilian Amazon: Its Implications for Land Distribution and Deforestation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1337-1347, August.
    2. Michael Dutschke, 2002. "Fractions of permanence – Squaring the cycle of sink carbon accounting," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 381-402, December.
    3. Stefanie Engel & Charles Palmer & Luca Taschini & Simon Urech, 2012. "Cost-effective payments for reducing emissions from deforestation under uncertainty," GRI Working Papers 72, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    4. Luciana S. Soler & Peter H. Verburg & Diógenes S. Alves, 2014. "Evolution of Land Use in the Brazilian Amazon: From Frontier Expansion to Market Chain Dynamics," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(3), pages 1-34, August.
    5. Danilo Camargo Igliori, 2006. "Deforestation, Growth And Agglomeration Effects: Evidence From Agriculture In The Brazilian Amazon," Anais do XXXIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 34th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 102, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    6. Pattanayak Subhrendu K. & Ross Martin T. & Depro Brooks M. & Bauch Simone C. & Timmins Christopher & Wendland Kelly J. & Alger Keith, 2009. "Climate Change and Conservation in Brazil: CGE Evaluation of Health and Wealth Impacts," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 1-44, September.
    7. Claudio Ferraz, 2015. "Explaining Agriculture Expansion and Deforestation: Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon – 1980/98," Discussion Papers 0106, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
    8. Muller, Daniel & Zeller, Manfred, 2002. "Land use dynamics in the central highlands of Vietnam: a spatial model combining village survey data with satellite imagery interpretation," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 333-354, November.
    9. Michael Dutschke, 2007. "CDM Forestry and the Ultimate Objective of the Climate Convention," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 275-302, February.
    10. Stefanie Engel & Charles Palmer & Luca Taschini & Simon Urech, 2015. "Conservation Payments under Uncertainty," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 91(1), pages 36-56.
    11. Celentano, Danielle & Sills, Erin & Sales, Marcio & Veríssimo, Adalberto, 2012. "Welfare Outcomes and the Advance of the Deforestation Frontier in the Brazilian Amazon," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 850-864.
    12. Danilo Camargo Igliori, 2005. "Determinants Of Technical Efficiency In Agriculture And Cattle Ranching: A Spatial Analysis For The Brazilian Amazon," Anais do XXXIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 33rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 137, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    13. Mertens, B. & Poccard-Chapuis, R. & Piketty, M.G. & Lacques, A.E. & Venturieri, A., 2002. "Crossing spatial analyses and livestock economics to understand deforestation processes in the Brazilian Amazon: the case of Sao Felix do Xingu in South Para," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 27(3), November.

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