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IBGE releases Land Cover and Use Map of Maranhão

Section: Geosciences

December 18, 2015 10h18 AM | Last Updated: January 22, 2018 03h11 PM


Produced in the 1:1,000,000 scale (1 cm = 10 km), this is one of the outcomes of the Systematic Mapping of Land Cover and Use per Federation Unit, implemented by the IBGE. The information herein pictures the dynamics of the land use and are key to the planning and management of the territory. It is an important instrument to assess the impacts on the natural resources, as it detects the transformation processes and also allows the assessment of socio-environmental conflicts. The map can be accessed here.

In the systematic mapping carried out by the IBGE, the geographic categories are identified through satellite images and adjusted to the information obtained from fieldwork. Statistical information from the IBGE, spatial cutouts on built-up areas and specific studies on natural resources are then added to this preliminary classification. Information from external sources may also be included like, for example, those provided by the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM), as well as documentation on silviculture areas and other technical texts.



The mapping of Maranhão detected four categories: non-agricultural anthropic areas; agricultural anthropic areas; areas of natural vegetation, waters and uncovered areas.

Mining areas were detected in the  non-agricultural anthropic areas category, highlighted by gold mining in the municipality of Godofredo Viana and ornamental granite quarrying, crushed rock quarrying and sand mining in the municipalities of Bacabeira and Rosário, as well as the exploitation of limestone and cement in the municipality of Codó. Urbanized areas was the other class present in this category.

Concerning the agricultural anthropic areas, livestock was spread throughout the state. It occupied about 47.12% of Maranhão´s territory, either in individualized classes or in classes associated with other activities, like temporary and/or permanent cropping, reforestation and even wild crop harvesting. This category was mostly concentrated in the North/Northeast of the state.

Buffalo breeding also stood out. Maranhão ranked in the fifth position in buffalo breeding, according to the IBGE´s Municipal Livestock Production 2014. Still in the Agricultural Anthropic Areas category, grain production expanded particularly in the chapadas located in the south of the state, soybean among them: Maranhão was the tenth biggest producer among the 27 FUs and the municipality of Balsas was its main producer. Corn and rice - fifth biggest producer among the FUs - were also intensively produced. These crops were shown with individualized labels or associated with other activities, due to the cartographic scale of the mapping.

The areas of natural vegetation category was split into areas of forest cover and countryside. The areas of forest covered 30.52% of the state, highlighted by logging and other forest products. In some cases, reforestation with eucalyptus species were associated with these covers, as they occupied non-vegetated areas. Such use was known in the municipalities of Açailândia, Bom Jesus das Selvas, Buriticupu, Barra do Corda, Grajaú and Santa Luzia.

Babaçu palms flourished in the area with secondary vegetation of the Open Ombrophilous Forest, used by wild crop harvesting in association with livestock. In the countryside (95,443km2), buffalo breeding took place in the flooded pioneer formations, like in the municipalities of Santa Helena, Pinheiro, Turilândia and Turiaçu, in the Pericumã River basin. Rice cropping could also be found in some flooded areas.

In the south of the state, countryside was located in the chapadas, known as gerais. Grain cropping and cattle breeding prevailed, like in the municipalities of Alto Parnaíba, Balsas, Fortaleza dos Nogueiras, Nova Colinas, Riachão and Tasso Fragoso.

The waters category encompasses continental waters and coastal waters, which served as transportation, fishing and leisure.

The uncovered areas category (0.54% of the state) was mainly represented by vast areas of dunes oriented to tourism and leisure. One example of this category is the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.