Land use change in four landscapes in the Peruvian Amazon

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This working paper uses remote sensing data and methods to characterize land cover change in four sites in the lowland Peruvian Amazon over a period of three decades (1987-2017). Multi-village landscapes were purposefully selected to include road accessible sites and others only accessible by river. Landscape analysis focused on buffers around the selected villages used to approximate the areas of influence of farmers in these communities. Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon has been commonly attributed to agriculture expansion by smallholders. This belief falls short in acknowledging that the contribution of smallholder deforestation is mediated by others decisions around infrastructure development. In this analysis, road connected landscapes experienced greater loss of closed-canopy forest while closed canopy forest remained mostly stable in the river sites over the thirty year study period. Results indicated that closed canopy forest loss occurred in parallel with agricultural expansion at the road sites. The findings contribute to a more nuanced understanding of local land use dynamics and the role of regional infrastructure development as a driver of forest loss.

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