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Spacecraft nadir point: 25.1° S, 50.2° W

Photo center point: 20.0° S, 63.0° W

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Nadir to Photo Center: West

Spacecraft Altitude: 145 nautical miles (269km)
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Image Caption: Progressive Forest Clearing, Bolivia

The eastern half of Bolivia is covered with tropical rainforest. In the 1990s, Bolivia initiated a large-scale effort to increase the rate of logging and create tracts of land for commercial agriculture (primarily soy and sugar cane, but also coca) on the Amazon Basin side of the Andean highlands. Today, the commercial fields are well-established and easily mapped from space as large, rectangular clearings in the forest. The agricultural developments are still growing today.

The clearings start off as small rectangles arranged perpendicular to an access road; early clearings take on a herring-bone pattern when viewed from above. The uncleared (dark forest) areas are gradually logged and cultivated, filling in the pattern to make a larger cleared area. This image, a wide panorama view looking toward the west and the Andean foothills, was taken from the Space Shuttle in November 1995. The clearing efforts were just getting underway, evidenced by the crosshatched and herring-bone pattern of clearing north of the river. On the south side of the river, old, abandoned river stream channels show up as lighter regions with lesser forest cover.