Analyzing the spatial variation of environmental impacts from sugarcane land use and expansion in Sao Paulo state, Brazil.
Vera Concha, I.C.
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In this study, the spatial variation of environmental impacts from sugarcane production was quantitatively assessed for Sao Paulo state, Brazil. The study analyzed the time step from 2004-2015. More specifically, the study objective was to analyze spatially the environmental impacts generated from the sugarcane use and expansion. The spatial variation analysis is a relevant component to understand the spatial sustainability from the sugarcane industry in the state. The Land Use Change (LUC) dynamics from the state were evaluated on yearly basis for the entire time step (2004-2015) with a geographical information system (GIS) and were the reference point for the environmental impacts assessments. 4 different environmental impacts were assessed on yearly basis for the entire time step (2004-2015). CO2 emissions from sugarcane land use and LUC were quantified with the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, water shortage was evaluated with a water balance approach, biodiversity with the Mean Species Abundance indicator, and soil erosion with the RUSLE equation. Furthermore, the environmental impacts were integrated and classified between negative, positive and no change impacts to obtain a complete image of the sustainability (spatially) of the sugarcane production in the state. The spatial variation in the environmental impacts and integration section was also assessed with GIS. On a general basis, there were more negative than positive impacts from the sugarcane production and expansion (depending on harvest year). Furthermore, areas with sugarcane expansion are generating more negative impacts than the constant sugarcane areas. The environmental impacts integration showed that there were several tradeoffs between impacts and the Northwest area of the state is the one with the most negative scores. Nevertheless, the scores vary from year to year with some years performing worse than others. The geographical variation from environmental impacts is mostly determined by previous land use (with the exception of the water indicator). Furthermore, inter-annual variations between impacts are relative low and mostly determined by different factors for each environmental impact. This study provides a basis and framework to identify possible areas more suitable for sugarcane expansion that could generate more positive than negative impacts and also key parameters that could be improved to enhance the sustainability of the sector.