Land change in the Brazilian Savanna (Cerrado), 1986-2002: Comparative analysis and implications for land-use policy Academic Article uri icon


  • The Brazilian Cerrado, a biodiverse savanna ecoregion covering 1.8 million km2 south and east of the Amazon rainforest, is in rapid decline because of the expansion of modern agriculture. Previous studies of Cerrado land-use and land-cover (LULC) change imply spatial homogeneity, report widely varying rates of land conversion, use ambiguous LULC categories, and generally do not attempt to validate results. This study addresses this gap in the literature by analyzing moderate-resolution, multi-spectral satellite remote sensing data from 1986 to 2002 in two regions with identical underlying drivers. Unsupervised classification by the ISODATA algorithm indicates that Cerrado was converted to agro-pastoral land covers in 31% (3646 km2) of the study region in western Bahia and 24% (3011 km2) of the eastern Mato Grosso study region, while nearly 40% (4688 km2 and 5217 km2, respectively) of each study region remained unchanged. Although aggregate land change is similar, large and contiguous fragments persist in western Bahia, while smaller fragments remain in eastern Mato Grosso. These findings are considered in the current context of Cerrado land-use policy, which is dominated by the conservation set-aside and command-control policy models. The spatial characteristics of Cerrado remnants create considerable obstacles to implement the models; an alternative approach, informed by countryside biogeography, may encourage collaboration between state officials and farmer-landowners toward conservation land-use policies. 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Brannstrom, C., Jepson, W., Filippi, A. M., Redo, D., Xu, Z., & Ganesh, S.

citation count

  • 195

complete list of authors

  • Brannstrom, Christian||Jepson, Wendy||Filippi, Anthony M||Redo, Daniel||Xu, Zenawang||Ganesh, Srinivasan

publication date

  • January 2008