Distant and Diffuse Drivers: Understanding telecoupled land use change in the Brazilian Amazon Basin using simulation modelling

Authors: James Millington*, King's College London, Ramon Bicudo da Silva, State University of Campinas, Steven Peterson, Dartmouth College, Jeremy Woods, Imperial College London, Mateus Batistella, EMBRAPA
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, South America
Keywords: land use change, telecoupling, ABM, simulation, Brazil
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual Track 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Increasing and changing global demand for food and fibre, driven by an increasing human population and improving living standards, creates pressures on land resources in many parts of the world. These pressures mean that land use and forest change in one locality can be the result of distant and diffuse drivers that are difficult to identify and trace. The ‘telecoupling framework’ has been developed to aid investigation of local change due to global socioeconomic and environmental interactions of coupled-human natural systems between distant places. Here, we use a quantitative simulation model based on the telecoupling framework to examine land use and deforestation dynamics in parts of the Amazônia and Cerrado biomes within the Brazilian Amazon Basin. The simulation model couples a spatial agent-based model of land use and land cover in Brazil with a system dynamics model of global commodity trade. We apply the model to examine how global trade flows and environmental constraints influence local decision making about land use change and deforestation under alternative scenarios. We show how scenarios of climate extremes (drought), trade wars (tariffs) and social change (dietary shifts) result in differing spatial patterns of change and historical trajectories. We reflect on the utility and uncertainty of the modelling presented and more generally on the possibility of qualitative-simulation mixed methods (as distinct from qualitative-quantitative mixed methods) and alternative interpretations of the telecoupling framework for understanding socio-environmental dynamics of forest and land use change.

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