Deforestation and land cover change in Paraguay

Doug Goodin, PhD

Department of Geography

During this year of funding, Dr. Goodin focused on two questions; (1) the effect of governmental change on land use, and (2) issues arising from competing land use patterns associated with larger-scale foreign land ownership vs. small-scale subsistence farming by exurban land holders, who are frequently squatters. The imagery purchased in the previous year was analyzed for forest loss and conversion to agriculture and pasture. Patterns of land use/land cover change associated with forest conversion by large commercial landholders and smaller landholders was compared. Comparisons between the Paraguayan and Brazilian sides of the border were also made.

Together with faculty from the Departments of Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work, Goodin examined the sociopolitical forces driving deforestation, and the biophysical effects of deforestation associated with various socio-political drivers. This component of the research required travel to Paraguay in order to collect forest biophysical data, environmental data, crop data, and land tenure information. The data was used to model land cover change with a cellular automata approach. The advantage of the cellular automata approach is the spatially explicit model output it generates, allowing analysis of spatial patteruns and generation of "what if" scenarios under various conditions of climate, population, or economic structural changes.

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