My favourity paper of the week is: “Agricultural intensification in Brazil and its effects on land-use patterns: an analysis of the 1975–2006 period”

Barretto, A.G., Berndes, G., Sparovek, G., Wirsenius, S. (2013) Agricultural intensification in Brazil and its effects on land use patterns: An analysis of the 1975‐2006 period. Global Change Biology. Abstract.

I guess my choice of this paper is somewhat affected by the fact that our PNAS paper on agricultural intensification in DRC was published also this week and I think that Barretto et al study is a very good piece of empirical evidence to our modelling approach.

The important question: “does agricultural intensification spare land for conservation?”. Remains controversial. Empirical spatially explicit studies such as that published this week in Global Change Biology by Barretto et al. shed light in this area.

One of their main results is that there are two types of dynamics depending whether it is an “agriculturally consolidated” area or agriculture at the forest frontier. Agricultural intensification in the consolidated area will lead to land sparing BUT in the forest frontier it will lead to crop expansion and presumably deforestation.

The reason behind the dynamics in consolidated areas is that land is scarce and producers need to intensify without the opportunity of expansion. This is not the case in the forest frontier.

Finally, they show that forest land conversion can be countered with adequate policies that protect forests as shown in the Atlantic Forest biome.

Overall a very good paper highly recommended.

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