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Remote Sensing Images to Detect Soy Plantations in the Amazon Biome – the Soy Moratorium Initiative
* 1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 2 , 2 , 3 , 3
1  National Institute of Space Research, Brazil
2  Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries, Brazil
3  Geoambiente Consulting Engineering, Brazil

Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Governance & Sustainability
Abstract: The Soy Moratorium is an initiative to reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon biome based on the hypothesis that soybean is a deforestation driver. Farmers that planted soybean in that biome in opened areas after its declaration, July 24th, 2006, would not have their production commercialized nor supported with any financial aid through purchases or crop financing by the associated companies to the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (ABIOVE) and the National Association of Cereal Exporters (ANEC). ABIOVE and ANEC represent about 90% of the Brazilian soybean market. Brazil has a long term project to monitor the deforested areas in the Brazilian Amazon Biome using remote sensing images. Every year a map with new deforested polygons is available on the Internet ( Therefore, it is possible to monitor the deforested polygons after the Moratorium date in order to identify annual crops in these polygons using remote sensing images. The crop detection method based on satellite images facilitate and reduce costs of the monitoring procedure to select possible soybean fields. The MODIS satellite images are not able to classify soybean crop at early growth stages with high accuracy, however, they play an important role in the pre-selection of these possible soybean fields. Therefore, crop detection method also uses Landsat like images, aerial survey and, field work. In the last crop, 3,571 deforested polygons with more than 25 ha and deforested after the Moratorium declaration were identified nearby the soybean producing region in the Amazon Biome. Using satellite imagery analysis procedure, 293 of these deforested polygons were selected, indicating to have annual crops. Soybean was detected in 147 of 293 polygons, covering an area of 11,698 ha. In 2011, the soybean was cultivated only in 0.39% of the recently deforested areas in Amazon Biome during the Moratorium period. In terms of the total soybean area cultivated in Brazil and in the Amazon Biome, 11,698 ha represents 0.05% and 0.60%, respectively. It seems that the Soy Moratorium is having an inhibitory effect on recent deforestation in the Amazon Biome, but the soy crop certainly has not been a major driver of deforestation during the last four years as indicated by the numbers. The quantitative geospatial information provided by an effective monitoring approach is paramount to the implementation of a governance process required to establish an equitable balance between environmental protection and agricultural production.
Keywords: Soybean, Deforestation, Amazon Forest, MODIS