Spatial spillover effects from agriculture drive deforestation in Mato Grosso, Brazil

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is a threat to global climate, biodiversity, and many other ecosystem services. In order to address this threat, an understanding of the drivers of deforestation processes is required. Spillover effects and factors that differ across locations and over time play important roles in these processes. They are largely disregarded in applied research and thus in the design of evidence-based policies. In this study, we model connectivity between regions and consider heterogeneous effects to gain more accurate quantitative insights into the inherent complexity of deforestation. We investigate the impacts of agriculture in Mato Grosso, Brazil, for the period 2006–2017 considering spatial spillovers and varying impacts over time and space. Spillovers between municipalities that emanate from croplands in the Amazon appear as the major driver of deforestation, with no direct effects from agriculture in recent years. This suggests a moderate success of the Soy Moratorium and Cattle Agreements, but highlights their inability to address indirect effects. We find that the neglect of the spatial dimension and the assumption of homogeneous impacts lead to distorted inference. Researchers need to be aware of the complex and dynamic processes behind deforestation, in order to facilitate effective policy design.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number21804
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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