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Deforestation in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

These images from 1986 and 2001 are for an area of tropical dry forest lying east of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Since the mid-1980s, the resettlement of people from the Altiplano (the Andean high plains) and a large agricultural development effort (the Tierras Baja project) has lead to this area’s deforestation. Soybean production began in earnest in the early 1970s following a substantial increase in the crop’s world price. The pie or radial patterned fields are part of the San Javier resettlement scheme. At the center of each unit is a small community that includes a church, bar/café, school, and soccer field. The rectangular, light colored areas are fields of soybeans cultivated for export, mostly funded by foreign loans. The dark strips running through the fields are windbreaks, which are advantageous because the soils in this area are fine and prone to wind erosion. The 1986 Landsat image (left) was acquired on August 4, 1986, and the ASTER image (right) on August 11, 2001.

Image courtesy NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team