Deforestation in Rondonia, Brazil: Frontier urbanization and landscape change
Agriculture, Forestry and Wildlife.
Urban and Regional Planning.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractBetween 1960 and 1991, the population of Rondonia, Brazil increased from 70,000 to 1.3 million. This increase occurred during the thirty-year period bracketing the rise to statehood, during which a rural population also became largely urban. Simultaneously, the loss of tropical rain forest in the state progressed at unparalleled rates. This dissertation examines some of the ways in which these two rapidly changing aspects of Rondonia's landscape are related to each other. The research project employs a framework grounded in realist philosophy, a flexible approach that facilitates research into processes that are unfolding at a regional scale but which occur within the context of broader national and international structures. Several kinds of connections between urban population growth and deforestation are examined, including land conversion for urban use, food consumption in urban areas, wood consumption for housing in urban areas, and power consumption in urban areas. Urban sprawl is found to be significantly and positively correlated with deforestation at the municipio level, but the absolute magnitude of urban sprawl is very small relative to total deforestation. No spatial correlation is found between urban settlement and the dedication of land to food crops. A weak but positive correlation is found between urban demand for timber and total deforestation, but the absolute magnitude of local timber demand is found to be very small in comparison to forest clearing. The recent diversification of the timber industry in order to absorb urban labor may have profound implications for demand on forest resources in the future. Electricity generation has been destructive of rain forest, and capacity already under construction is likely to have further such impacts. The cultural landscape of Rondonia reflects an orientation that is increasingly outward-looking. Rondonia's cities and towns are becoming more closely connected with one another and more fully integrated with the outside world. Early incentives to settle in Rondonia contributed to deforestation, but the curtailment of these incentives did not curtail deforestation. Rondonia is a place caught between two opposite pressures: the pressure to preserve the rain forest and the pressure to participate in the world economy as consumers.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Geography and Regional Development