FOREST COVER ANALYSIS THROUGH THE WEIGHTS OF EVIDENCE METHOD IN THE CAMPANHA OCIDENTAL REGION - RS (BRAZIL)
ABSTRACT The uncontrolled expansion of human activities may lead to a reduction in vegetation cover, an increase in erosion processes and soil sealing. The aim of this study is to examine forest cover using the Weights of evidence method based on land use maps between the years of 1996 and 2011 in the micro-region of the Campanha Ocidental located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). The spatial database was constructed in SPRING software (version 5.2.1) based on LANDSAT 5 images, which were georeferenced and classified. Geophysical and socioeconomic variables were included in the database for further analysis in Dinamica EGO software (version 2.2.8). In order to parameterize the probabilistic model for the analysis of the dynamics of forest cover change, we calculated the percentage of class change through transition matrices; calculated the intervals for discretization of continuous variables; calculated the weights of evidence (W+); analyzed the correlation between the weights of the input variables for all transitions; simulated future scenarios and; validated the simulated final map based on the historical map. This model was adequate for understanding the variables that most contribute to forest cover change in the region. The results showed that the emergence of new forest areas was influenced by hypsometry, distance to sandy lands and per capita income, while deforestation by rural population and distance to the sandy lands.