MAPPING NATURAL NON-FOREST VEGETATION REMOVAL IN THE BRAZILIAN AMAZON – A PILOT PROJECT
Keywords: Non-forest vegetation, mapping, natural vegetation removal, PRODES, Brazilian Amazon
Abstract. The increasing pressure from agriculture and pasture activities over non-forest vegetation areas revealed the need of INPE to extend forest regular monitoring to non-forested areas. Non-forest vegetation consists of savannahs, shrub lands, grasslands or seasonal floodplains that occupy 279 thousand km2 (6,63 %) of Brazilian Amazon biome extension. Addressed ecosystem services of non-forest vegetation vary from climate, soil, carbon storage, biodiversity, water and fire regulation to cultural benefits and living of the population. The challenge in monitoring non-forest removal lies in climatic seasonality, high variability of phytophysiognomies and cloud coverage. In this work we developed a method to map non-forest vegetation from 2000 to 2021 in a pilot area enclosing five municipalities in Roraima and Amapá states. Considering the total area of 47 thousand km2, 58 % was originally forest and 37 % was non-forest vegetation. In 2020, soybean planted areas occupied 60 thousands hectares in these municipalities. We adapted PRODES protocol to non-forest features using visual interpretation of Landsat and SENTINEL-2 satellite images. Regional expertise supported the interpretation keys to distinguish non-forest removal from seasonal changes or other land use changes. A baseline map for 2000 is provided together with biannual and annual increments for 2002–2018 and 2019–2021, respectively. Results show removal of non-forested areas even overpassing deforestation in some municipalities. Accumulated non-forest removal was 3.133,06 km2 or 17,44 % of the non-forest area enclosed. This work consolidated the method to be applied in the Brazilian Amazon biome allowing a uniform historical mapping series of deforestation and non-forest removal.