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GEO-3: GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK  
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OUR CHANGING ENVIRONMENT: Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The area round Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia has been rapidly deforested since the mid-1980s as a result of resettlement of people from the Altiplano (the Andean high plains) and a large agricultural development project called Tierras Baja. The pie or radial patterned fields (see photo below) are part of the resettlement scheme. In the middle of each unit is a small community centre including a church, bar/cafe, school and soccer field. The rectilinear, light-coloured areas are fields of soybeans cultivated for export. The dark strips running through the fields (bottom photo) are wind breaks, used to prevent erosion of the fine soils. Landsat images show the development of new agricultural settlements east of Santa Cruz in an area of tropical dry forest.

Landsat data: USGS/EROS Data Center
Text and photographs: Compton Tucker, NASA GSFC