Monitoring deforestation in the Amazon rainforest

This micro-site aggregates data on deforestation in the Amazon from several sources. The most timely data comes from Brazil: specifically Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and Imazon, a Brazilian NGO.

Narrative context on these issues can be found at Mongabay’s Amazon rainforest section as well as Mongabay’s regular news reporting on the Amazon in English, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish. Recent headlines from these sites can be found at the bottom of this page.


This site is organized into sections:

Recent news


  • ‘Digital land grab’ deprives traditional LatAm peoples of ancestral lands: Report
    on October 21, 2020 at 11:25 am

    - South American nations, including Brazil and Colombia, are increasingly using georeferencing technology for registering land ownership.- However, if this high-tech digital technique is not backed up by traditional ground truthing surveys, it can be used by landgrabbers and agribusiness companies to fraudulently obtain deeds depriving traditional communities of their collective ancestral lands, according to a new report.- The georeferenced process is being partly funded by the World Bank, which has provided US $45.5 million for digital registration of private rural properties in Brazil. Georeferencing is allowing the international financial sector to play a key role in converting large tracts of rainforest and savanna into agribusiness lands.- To prevent this form of land theft, prospective landowners’ claims need to be independently verified via a centralized governmental land registration system organized to resolve land conflicts and to detect and eliminate local and regional corruption.

  • Colombia, ethnobotany, and America’s decline: An interview with Wade Davis
    on October 21, 2020 at 9:00 am

    - Wade Davis is a celebrated anthropologist, ethnobotanist, photographer, and author who has written thought-provoking accounts of indigenous cultures around the world. Through his writing, Davis has documented the disappearance of indigenous languages and cultures, the loss of which is outpacing the destruction of the world’s rainforests.- Davis’s newest book, Magdalena: River of Dreams: A Story of Colombia, traces the path of the Magdalena River as a vehicle to tell the story of Colombia, including the nation’s tumultuous recent past, the tenuous peace of its present, and its future promise. Colombia holds a special place for Davis: it trails only Brazil in terms of biodiversity, is geographically and culturally diverse, and has gone to great lengths to recognize indigenous rights and protect its forests.- Davis’s research into Colombia, indigenous cultures, and other societies has given him an unusually broad perspective with which to evaluate recent developments in the United States, which he compared to a collapsing empire in a commentary he authored in August for Rolling Stone.- Davis talked about his career path, his new book, and the decline of America in an October 2020 interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.

  • Brazil reports lower deforestation, higher fires in September
    on October 9, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    - Brazil’s national space research institute INPE reported a third straight monthly drop in Amazon deforestation in September, but its data also showed a sharp increase in the area affect by fires.- According to INPE’s deforestation alert system, deforestation in the “legal Amazon” during the month of September amounted to 964 square kilometers, down 34% from September 2019. That follows a 27% decline in July and a 21% decline in August relative to a year ago when deforestation in the region hit the highest level since 2008.- However the reported decline in recent months does not match the trend reported by Imazon, an independent NGO, which reported increases of more than 30% in July and August, but hasn’t published September analysis yet. The discrepancy could be due to the different methodologies used by the two systems, though normally INPE and Imazon’s data show strong correlation.- Since January, INPE has reported more than 7,000 square kilometers of deforestation in the Amazon, down 10% from the same period last year, but the second highest on record since 2008.

  • Mining covers more than 20% of Indigenous territory in the Amazon
    on October 9, 2020 at 11:43 am

    - A new report from the World Resources Institute and the Amazon Geo-Referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network reveals that mining has impacted more than 20% of the Amazon’s Indigenous territory.- The analysis shows that deforestation rates are as much as three times higher on Indigenous lands with mining compared to those without.- The study’s authors suggest that improved law enforcement, greater investment in Indigenous communities and stricter environmental protections are necessary to combat the surge of mining in the Amazon.

  • As Brazil burns, Indigenous fire brigades face an uncertain future
    on October 9, 2020 at 7:30 am

    - More than 1,000 Indigenous people volunteer as firefighters throughout Brazil, protecting 14 million hectares (35 million acres) of Indigenous lands.- However, in a year of record fires, the very continuity of the Indigenous fire brigades is at risk, with the government failing to provide the coordination, recognition, funding or support that they need.- Fire-prevention measures that were supposed to start in April, before the dry season, were instead delayed to July, once the burning had already begun, with the COVID-19 pandemic one of the factors blamed for the delay.- Insiders in the federal agencies overseeing environmental protection and Indigenous affairs also point to an official culture of neglect of Indigenous communities, which in many cases has forced Indigenous firefighters to work unpaid.



Brazilian Portuguese