Alternative Landscapes Along the Amazon’s Agro-Industrial Frontier: Ecological and Economic Trade-Offs of Land Use Policy Scenarios for the Xingu River Headwaters

EPA Grant Number: F6C20802
Title: Alternative Landscapes Along the Amazon’s Agro-Industrial Frontier: Ecological and Economic Trade-Offs of Land Use Policy Scenarios for the Xingu River Headwaters
Investigators: Stickler, Claudia Margret
Institution: University of Florida
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through August 31, 2009
Project Amount: $70,326
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice , Fellowship - Geography , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


In the proposed research, a policy-sensitive land-use model that simulates the growth of mechanized cultivation and cattle ranching and other land-uses will be developed for a watershed in the southeastern Amazon’s agro-industrial expansion zone. The model will be employed to (a) analyze the effects of land-use policy scenarios on future land cover and land use, and (b) provide decision-making support to a multi-stakeholder watershed planning process underway for the region.  The research will yield land-use maps that provide the basis for evaluating the ecological and economic trade-offs of adopting land-use regulations proposed by different stakeholder groups. In addition, the cost of restoring riparian zone vegetation associated with different land uses and the opportunity costs incurred by producers to comply with the policy requirements assumed for each scenario will be estimated.


The proposed investigation consists of 3 principal components: (1) the construction of a geographic information system (GIS) and a land-use/land-cover change simulation model for the study area; (2) the development of alternative scenarios describing future landscape trajectories in response to changes in land-use legislation; and (3) a comparison of the ecological and economic trade-offs presented by each scenario, including changes in carbon stocks, water quality, forest connectivity and potential income and employment.

Expected Results:

I anticipate that this work will demonstrate that more restrictive land-use regulations are actually less effective than other, more flexible regulations in slowing deforestation and riparian zone degradation, due to (1) the differential use of the landscape by grain and cattle producers and (2) the prohibitively high opportunity costs of current legislation. In addition, this work will provide a basis for stakeholder negotiations that incorporate a more objective view of the trade-offs of adopting different policies or land management options, by providing quantitative economic and ecological estimates that can be readily compared between scenarios.

Supplemental Keywords:

watershed management, scenarios, dynamic simulation model, environmental policy, cost-benefit analysis, deforestation, land-use change, agro-industry,, RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, POLLUTION PREVENTION, sustainable development, decision-making, Ecology and Ecosystems, Economics & Decision Making, Social Science, stakeholder involvement, decision analysis, economic benefits, environmental decision making, decision making, anthropogenic effects, Amazon, socioeconomics, environmental policy, agronomic model, agriculture

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final