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In the 1960s, San Julian, Bolivia, was nearly inaccessible, located deep in the thick Amazon forest. The few roads that existed were only passable during the dry season. The relatively flat lowlands make the region suited to farming. The land can be easily, and relatively cheaply, cleared with heavy machinery. The area also receives abundant rainfall and can support two growing seasons.

With financial help from international organizations, Bolivia started a program to settle the area, to drive development and improve the economy. This development, however, has resulted in the deforestation of the rain forest. The San Julian settlements are conspicuous in the upper left of these Landsat images as one unique type of deforestation pattern.

Other deforestation patterns emerge in the rest of the time series of images in the Bolivian department called Santa Cruz. The region has transformed from dense forest into a grid-patterned expanse of agricultural lands. Many of the fields are soybeans cultivated for export. Prices have been good for soybeans, and they are relatively easy to grow.


Every picture has a story to tell
June 17, 1975, Landsat 2 (path/row 247/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
July 2, 1986, Landsat 5 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Aug. 11, 1989, Landsat 5 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
July 27, 1995, Landsat 5 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Aug. 1, 2000, Landsat 7 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Aug. 23, 2005, Landsat 5 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
July 20, 2010, Landsat 5 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
July 23, 2017, Landsat 8 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
July 29, 2019, Landsat 8 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Aug. 19, 2021, Landsat 8 (path/row 230/72) — Santa Cruz, Bolivia


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