Human migration impacts on land use in the Amazon

William Pan, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Fengmin Zhao, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

A fundamental cause of land use change in the tropics is the settlement of migrant families to establish agriculture. Where and why people settle is surprisingly an understudied area regardless of the recognition that migrant families are key agents of change in forest frontiers. In this paper we examine household migration settlement patterns and their impact on land use change. Specifically, we construct simultaneous equations models to predict human gravitation to a specific area during different time periods and how this gravitation influences resulting land cover. Data are taken from a longitudinal study of colonist households in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon and we draw upon several theories to build our models, including Von Thunen’s model of agricultural land, Ricardian law of rent, Ravenstein’s laws of migration, and migration gravity models. Preliminary findings indicate that areas of highest human gravitation correspond to areas undergoing the most rapid changes in land use.

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Presented in Session 97: Population distribution processes and environmental change