Spatial network dynamics of soybean expansion in the Brazilian Amazon: evidence of changing the axes of exportation

Authors: Gabriel Carrero*, University of Florida, Liang Mao, University of Florida, Robert T Walker, University of Florida
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: supply-chains, infrastructure development, land use change, spatial network analysis
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite the reported threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, this millennium has experienced increased global tropical deforestation rates, which were mostly driven by the global market of commodities. In the Brazilian Amazon, soybean production almost doubled from 2010 to 2015, reaching 12 million tons. Short-term prospects indicate a progressively increase given the significant infrastructure investments and the political will for expanding the sector. This study uses spatial networks to provide evidence that the main axes of transportation for shipping soybeans overseas are changing from southern to northern ports and facilities in Brazil. From 2010 to 2015, centrality measures for northern ports have increased due to growth in volume exported and number of ports. This new configuration is still an ongoing process not yet fully materialized, as a southern port was the principal one for 2015. Notwithstanding, the sector’s infrastructure plans for the northern axes estimate a total shipment capacity of 50 million tons per year by 2026. These plans entail an increase in deforestation on large tracts of undisturbed forests of the Amazon via indirect land use change. Such pristine areas are likely to become hotspots of deforestation due to the displacement of cattle ranching from soybean regions. Also, this new scenario brings more urbanization, forest fragmentation, uneven development, and land conflicts, as it favors large landholdings. In conclusion, spatial network measures are relevant as explanatory devices as they are useful for the design of public policies and for exploring research directions in a scenario of a changing Amazonia.

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