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Linking farming systems to landscape change: An empirical and spatially explicit study in southern Chile

Carmona, A., Nahuelhual, L., Echeverría, C., Báez, A.
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2010 v.139 no.1-2 pp. 40-50
farming systems, land use change, vegetation cover, temporal variation, decision making, land management, spatial variation, farm typology, subsistence farming, forest plantations, dairy farming, deforestation, small-scale farming, Chile
In rural areas, land use and cover change is often the cumulative result of individual farmer decisions. The goal was to construct a spatial typology of farming systems and assess their influence on the extent and spatial distribution of deforestation, forest re-growth, and agriculture expansion in southern Chile between 1999 and 2007. We present a farm typology and its spatial rendering through the combination of farm-cadastral information and land cover and change data. Using multivariate statistical methods, four types were identified. Type I (1565 subsistence farms) and type II farms (1016 multifunctional farms) comprised 94% of the total farms under study. Type III (28 forest farms) and type IV farms (137 specialized dairy farms) represented the remaining 6%, but accounted for 35% of the deforested area. Using Kernel density estimation, it was determined that areas of high deforestation density were related to high concentrations of type I and IV farms, whereas agriculture expansion was related to types I and II. Overall, subsistence farms had the largest influence on the landscape in terms of the spatial extent and concentration of LUCC processes. These results are relevant for planning, especially in countries where rural landscapes are still dominated by farming activities.