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Study of the socio-environmental impacts motivated by the advance of the agricultural frontier along the BR-163

Grant number: 03/07064-2
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: December 01, 2003 - December 31, 2006
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Geography - Regional Geography
Principal Investigator:Messias Modesto dos Passos
Grantee:Messias Modesto dos Passos
Home Institution: Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia (FCT). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Presidente Prudente. Presidente Prudente , SP, Brazil


The process of colonization, throughout Brazil’s history, occurred in stages, obeying the east-west movement and was motivated by the production of raw material geared to the international market. This is one of the reasons for its fragility. Amazonia and the Center-West suffered great impact from the policies of the military government. Amazonia, identified with rubber, and the Center-West with extensive cattle farming, are going to have their economies diversified. The decades of the 1970s and 1980s were marked by the rapid retreat of those surfaces occupied by topical forests. This phenomenon is particularly spectacular in Brazil, where it is estimated that 551 thousand km2 of Amazon Forest were destroyed for agricultural development (livestock farming). The case of Mato Grosso is very revealing from that evolution, due to the extension of the surfaces conquered by agriculture at the expense of the forest and, also, due to the diversity of the pre-existing landscapes and the actual forms of occupation of the so-called “empty spaces”. The temporal- spatial scale of the territorial dynamics requires a permanent and rapid tracking of the cartography of those regions: satellite images meet this objective. In Mato Grosso, agricultural colonization is carried out, notably, by large private businesses from the South and Southeast of the country. The center-north of the state was “divided up” in the 1970s between three companies (Líder, Sinop and Indeco), which established colonization programs based on agricultural development of the lands supported by an “urban” network and in rural centers. Each one of these companies turned themselves into prime motive for the foundation of the principal urban centers of the north of Mato Grosso, respectively Colider, Sinop and Alta Floresta. The first stage of agricultural colonization is the opening of terrestrial paths of communication. The tracks, more or less passable in the rainy season, degrade rapidly, but permit the arrival and installation of the colonizers. Or rather, the maintenance of these axes is essential for the success of the explorations (commercialization of the agricultural products). Two levels of paths of communication can be identified in Mato Grosso: 1) a main network of asphalted roads: the BR (federal highways) 364 and 174 which cross Mato Grosso in the east-west direction linking Rondônia to the south of the country ; the BR-163 which links Cuiabá to Santarém and which crosses the state in the south-north direction; secondly we should mention the BR-158 (half asphalted), which crosses the east part of the state, in the north-south direction; 2) a network of main tracks (state roads), linking the principal urban centers to each other. Their maintenance is haphazard, but these axes play an important role in sustaining the pioneering zones of the north of the state. As the deforestations are concentrated initially in proximity to the roads and the tracks, it could be considered that the distance from these axes constitutes a primary factor to be considered by the modelization. The expectation/objective of our study is, initially, to establish a hierarchy of the explanatory factors of the phenomena observed, proposing a simplified representation of the reality. Thus, we will be able to highlight the evidence of those regions at risk of being the next to be subjected to deforestation and calculate, for example, an index of deforestation risk based on the parameters obtained.We believe that, based on this, it is possible to propose probable evolutions of the extension of the deforestation by extrapolation and supply entry data for medium scale climatic models. Thus, we are going to take control of the territorial fragment, for the purposes of more systematic investigation, defined by the strip of land of the BR-163 - from Cuiabá (Mato Grosso) to Santarém (Pará). (AU)