Vegetation and Land Use Map in the Upper Paraguay River
The results show that the lower floodplain region where the Pantanal itself is located is well preserved and still retains 86.6% of its natural vegetation cover. The situation is very different however in the upper reaches of the river basin where only 41.8% of the natural vegetation is still intact. The study also registered a higher rate of deforestation in the highland areas of the basin. From 2002 to 2008, in the Brazilian portion of the Upper Paraguay basin, the highland areas registered a loss of 4% of natural vegetation cover compared to 2.4% in the lowland floodplain.
The mapping process highlighted differences in the forms of land use between the highlands and the lowlands where the Pantanal is located. The highlands are marked by a the strong presence of agriculture and cattle farming while in the floodplain the cattle raising activities are less intensive, more extensive, and create far less pressure on the natural vegetation.
Data for 2008 show that cattle raising is the most prevalent form of anthropic (human) land use and accounts for 11.1% of the area under anthropic use in the floodplain and 43.5% in the highland plateaus. Agriculture in the floodplain occupies a mere 0.3% of the area whereas in the highlands it occupies 9.9%.