Recent regional trends of land use and land cover transformations in Brazil
Regional trends of land use/land cover transformation in Brazil during 2001—2012 were analyzed in the following sequence: 1) identification of the types of transitions for different land use and land cover categories and aggregated groups of transformation processes on the basis of the Global Land Cover Facility data, 2) analysis of national agricultural and forestry statistics to find out the principal socio-economic drivers, 3) overlapping of land cover and land use data for elaboration of a complex typology of land use/land cover changes on a regional level. The study revealed 96 types of transitions between land cover categories, aggregated into 10 groups corresponding to driving processes. It was found that the main processes of land cover transformations are often both natural and anthropogenic by origin. Cropping and deforestation are anthropogenic processes, flooding and draining are the principal natural ones. Transformation of cultivated lands and reforestation are combined natural and anthropogenic. The contribution of natural factors is higher in the states of the North (Amazonia) and the Northeast macroregions; in the Center-West and the South anthropogenic factors make larger contribution. We have also detected considerable land use/land cover changes caused by agricultural development in densely populated states of the Southeast and the South. In both macroregions planted area expands due to increase of soybeans and sugar cane production, while area of pastures is shrinking. The trends of transformations of agricultural land use revealed as a result of statistical data analysis, match with transitions of land cover categories belonging to the aggregated group of cropping processes. Transformations of land cover types with predominance of shrub vegetation were the most problematic to interpret because of lack of comparable statistical data on pastures.