Cropland/pastureland dynamics and the slowdown of deforestation in Latin America
Latin America has the planet's largest land reserves for agriculture and had the most rapid agricultural expansion during the twenty-first century. A large portion of the expansion replaced forests, as shown by many local and regional studies. However, expansion varied regionally and also replaced other land covers. Further, it is important to distinguish between changes in cropland and pastureland as they produce food at different levels of efficiency and intensity. The researchers used thirteen years (2001–2013) of MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer satellite imagery to characterize cropland and pastureland expansion at multiple scales across Latin America. From 2001 to 2013, 17% of new cropland and 57% of new pastureland replaced forests throughout Latin America. Cropland expansion from 2001 to 2013 was less (44.27 Mha) than pastureland (96.9 Mha), but 44% of the 2013 cropland total was new cropland, versus 27% of the 2013 pastureland total, revealing higher regional expansion rates of row crop agriculture.