Simulating deforestation in Minas Gerais, Brazil, under changing government policies and socioeconomic conditions

Kayla Stan, Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, Mário Espírito-Santo, Carlos Portillo-Quintero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Agricultural expansion is causing deforestation in Minas Gerais, Brazil, converting savanna and tropical dry forest to farmland, and in 2012, Brazil's Forest Code was revised with the government reducing deforestation restrictions. Understanding the effects of policy change on rates and locations of natural ecosystem loss is imperative. In this paper, deforestation in Minas Gerais was simulated annually until 2020 using Dinamica Environment for Geoprocessing Objects (Dinamica EGO). This system is a state-of-the-art land use and cover change (LUCC) model which incorporates government policy, landscape maps, and other biophysical and anthropogenic datasets. Three studied scenarios: (i) business as usual, (ii) increased deforestation, and (iii) decreased deforestation showed more transition to agriculture from shrubland compared to forests, and consistent locations for most deforestation. The probability of conversion to agriculture is strongly tied to areas with the smallest patches of original biome remaining. Increases in agricultural revenue are projected to continue with a loss of 25% of the remaining Cerrado land in the next decade if profit is maximized. The addition of biodiversity value as a tax on land sale prices, estimated at over $750,000,000 USD using the cost of extracting and maintaining current species ex-situ, can save more than 1 million hectares of shrubland with minimal effects on the economy of the State of Minas Gerais. With environmental policy determining rates of deforestation and economics driving the location of land clearing, site-specific protection or market accounting of externalities is needed to balance economic development and conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0137911
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 15 2015


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