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Population densities and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon: New insights on the current human settlement patterns

Abstract : Highlights • Low overall relations between population density and deforestation. • One third of Amazon deforestation is associated with only 1.5% of the population. • In contrast, 13% of the rural population live in preserved forests. • 'Discrete urbanization' of rural areas: multiplication of small towns. Abstract This paper provides the first analysis at the sub-municipality scale of the relationships between population densities and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon between 2000 and 2010. We use the database on deforestation published by the Brazilian space research center (INPE) and the population census data released by the federal geographical and statistical agency IBGE at their finest scale: the census tract level. By crossing the population density and deforestation variables, we identify ten human settlement patterns in the Amazon. There are low-low and high-high classes of population density and deforestation, but also low-high and high-low classes. This analysis helps understand the low overall relations in the Amazon for population and deforestation. We emphasize the expansion of large-scale agriculture and cattle ranching as causing the depopulation of rural areas while in many regions of the Amazon quite strong population densities coexist with relatively low extents of deforestation. Such findings stress the need to implement case-specific public policies in these regions in order to encourage human presence compatible with the conservation of forest cover and biodiversity. We also confirm the importance of the Amazon urbanization process, including the 'discrete urbanization' of rural areas, and the need to better recognize the distinct social and environmental problems of urban areas.
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Contributor : Isabelle Tritsch Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, January 3, 2017 - 5:40:26 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 8, 2022 - 10:04:04 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 3:18:06 PM


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Isabelle Tritsch, François-Michel Le Tourneau. Population densities and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon: New insights on the current human settlement patterns. Applied Geography, 2016, 76, pp.163 - 172. ⟨10.1016/j.apgeog.2016.09.022⟩. ⟨hal-01425695⟩



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