In this study we developed a methodology to identify and quantify the relationships among determinants of land cover change using a regional case study in the Brazilian Amazon. The method is based on the application of fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs), a semi-quantitative tool that provides a structured assessment of key feedbacks in scenario analysis. Novel to the application of FCMs is the use of spatial data-sets as the main input to build a cognitive map. Identification of interactions between land cover determinants and strengths is based on an empirical analysis of spatially explicit data and literature review. Expert knowledge is adopted to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the method. Potential pitfalls, such as spatial autocorrelation and scale issues, identified are intrinsic to the empirical data analysis. The outputs of the resulting FCMs are compared to the outputs of spatially explicit models under similar scenarios of change. The proposed method is said to be robust and reproducible when compared with participatory approaches, and it can endorse the consistency between demand and allocation in scenario analysis to be used in spatially explicit models.