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Land Change Models and Scenarios for the Brazilian Amazonia

The goal of this line of research is to construct multiscale computational models and scenarios of possible trajectories of land use and cover change in Amazonia. Our main focus is to understand and model the social processess that contribute to the large-scale deforestation in the region. Land change in Amazonia is brought about by a complex web of interaction between human and biophysical factors, which act over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. In order to construct our scenarios, we collaborate with a network of multidisciplinary researchers, in the broader context of the GEOMA network. We study how human-induced land change over the past 40 years results from institutional arrangements that influence how the region’s resources are controlled and owned. These arrangements act upon land tenure, territorial planning, market chains, and public policies.

We have adopted a multiscale, multi-locality, multi-approach to modeling, as Figure 1 and Figure 2 illustrate. At the regional level, we study cross-scale and intra-regional interactions. To complement the regional level studies, we collaborate on several case studies in selected sites in Amazonia, in which different institutional, socioeconomic and biophisical contexts are explored. Results from the case studies allow us to establish interrelations between the land systems and the institutional arrangements, and enable an analytical understanding of the driving forces of change at different scales. Such modeling efforts are the result of multi-institutional partnerships, as described in the list of projects with other institutions. In the long run, our research aims to provide the basis for developing more robust environmental models, which consider the complexity of social interactions in Amazonia. We collaborate with colleagues in the construction of Integrated Environmental Models, including land change components. To develop our models we use the TerraME modeling environment. Finally, we also investigate the necessary advances in the modeling computational support to construct our land change models, in a parallel line of research which investigates new modeling concepts and techniques.



Figure 1 - Schematic representation of our approach Figure 2 - Current study areas



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