Deforestation in the Atlantic Forest ecosystem of Paraguay and Brazil

Doug Goodin, PhD

Department of Geography

Space grant funds were used to support a project to study deforestaion in the Atlantic Forest ecosystem of Paraguay and Brazil. Like the well-known Tropical Rain Forest, the Atlantic Forest is a highly endangered ecosystem currently undergooing rapid deforestation accompanied by habitat destruction and fragmentation. It is estimated that over 90% of the Atlantic Forest has been transformed by human action. Unlike the rainforest, little is known of the patterns and history of Atlantic Forest loss. It is known that the Atlantic Forest is home to the largest concentration of endemic plants and animals of any of the Earth's major biomes. Rapid deforestation is being driven mainly by need for agriculatual and grazing lands. Forest is currently being replaced by commercial sugarcane and grain crop production, but even more commonly by pastureland for cattle. Unlike Tropical Rain Forest, cleared Atlantic Forest land can be expected to remain productive for many years, but loss of the forest is essentially irreversible. Government and non-government agencies in Paraguay and Brazil are currently formulating plans for preservation of Atlantic Forest remnants, with the eventual intent of creating corridors of linkage between remnant areas in reserves distributed throughout the two countries. Creating these preservational networks necessitates knowledge of habitat characteristics and physical properties of the forest, which can be gained by analysis of archival remote sensing data.

Funds were used to purchase 16 Landsat Multispectral Scanner (MSS) and Thematic Mapper (TM) images for the years 1972-73, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991, and 1992. Additional images for the years between 1973 and 1980 were purchased through the Brazilian Space Agency (INPE). Because of the age of the imagery, extensive preprocessing is required to correct errors.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional