Road development in the Brazilian Amazon and its ecological implications

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Title: Road development in the Brazilian Amazon and its ecological implications
Authors: Ahmed, Sadia Evelyn
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: Roads are a distinctive feature in any landscape, with many countries giving 1-2% of their land surface over to roads and roadsides (Forman 1998). However, the ecological effects of roads spread beyond the physical footprint of the network and may impact 15-20% of the land or more (Forman & Alexander 1998). The Brazilian Amazon contains approximately one third of the world’s remaining rainforest, covering an area of 4.1 million km2. The region is highly biodiverse with 10-20 percent of the planet’s known species, it is also one of the three most bioculturally diverse areas in the world (Loh & Harmon 2005), and it provides many valuable ecosystem services. However, the Brazilian Amazon is rapidly undergoing extensive development with widespread land-use conversion. Road development is often perceived as the initial stage of development, opening access to remote areas for colonisation, agriculture development, resource extraction, and linked with these; deforestation (Chomitz & Gray 1996, Laurance et al. 2001, Perz et al. 2007, Laurance et al. 2009, Caldas et al. 2010). As such roads are a key spatial determinant of land use conversion in the Amazon region, dictating the spatial pattern of deforestation and biodiversity loss (Fearnside 2005, Kirby et al. 2006, Perz et al. 2008). Given that roads are a key spatial determinant of land use conversion and that they have extensive impacts on rates and patterns of habitat loss, it is important that we know how much, how fast and where road networks are developing in this globally important ecosystem. In this thesis, I aim to construct models of road network development to help better understand and predict the impacts of economic development in the Brazilian Amazon.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Jun-2013
Date Awarded: Apr-2014
Supervisor: Ewers, Robert
Sponsor/Funder: Microsoft Research
Imperial College London
Department: Life Sciences
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Life Sciences PhD theses

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