Patches of natural vegetation remaining in landscapes occupied by man are continuously under threat due to the edge effects and also to land use types around these remnants. The most frequent threats and land use types in the vicinity of 81 Cerrado (tropical savanna type) fragments in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, were analyzed in order to verify if the frequency of every type of disturbance to the natural ecosystem depends on the neighboring land use. The hypothesis of the study assumes that environmental threats are correlated with land use around protected areas. From the 81 areas, the most frequent human-induced land cover types around the Cerrado remnants were: pasture (recorded in 78% of the areas), sugarcane plantations (26%), roads (19%), annual crops and reforestation (14% each). The most frequent sources of threats were invasive grasses (35% of the areas partially or totally invaded) and cattle (observed in 32% of the areas), followed by deforestation (21%), and fire (21%). The chi-square analysis revealed that, with the exception of deforestation, which does not depend on land use, all other threats are influenced by the neighboring land use. The occurrence of invasive grasses and fires are strongly favored by the presence of roads and urban areas. Sugarcane, reforestation, and permanent crops were the less impacting land use types found in the study area, when only considering impact frequency. These land use types have fire and weed control, and also exclude cattle, indirectly protecting natural ecosystems.
savanna; conservation; impact; fragmentation; land use