Tropical dry forests are the most threatened forest type in the world yet a paucity of research about them stymies development of appropriate conservation actions. The Paranã River Basin has the most significant dry forest formations in the Cerrado biome of central Brazil and is threatened by intense land conversion to pastures and agriculture. We examined changes in Paranã River Basin deforestation rates and fragmentation across three time intervals that covered 31 yr using Landsat imagery. Our results indicated a 66.3 percent decrease in forest extent between 1977 and 2008, with an annual rate of forest cover change of 3.5 percent. Landscape metrics further indicated severe forest loss and fragmentation, resulting in an increase in the number of fragments and reduction in patch sizes. Forest fragments in flatlands have virtually disappeared and the only significant forest remnants are mostly found over limestone outcrops in the eastern part of the basin. If current patterns persist, we project that these forests will likely disappear within 25 yr. These patterns may be reversed with creation of protected areas and involvement of local people to preserve small fragments that can be managed for restoration.
Additional publication details
Deforestation trends of tropical dry forests in central Brazil
The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation