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


  • Deforestation in the Amazon is drying up the rest of Brazil: Report
    on August 7, 2020 at 11:06 am

    - The center-west, south and part of the southeast regions of Brazil have seen rainfall well below average in recent years.- Agriculture is the first sector to feel the effects of the drought, with drastic losses in production. Water supply and power generation have also been impacted.- Agribusiness suffers the consequences of drought but also causes it: Deforestation of the Amazon to clear land for livestock, farming and logging affects the rainfall regime in Brazil and other Latin American countries.- “South America is drying up as a result of the combined effects of deforestation and climate change”, says scientist Antonio Donato Nobre.

  • Brazil dismantles environmental laws via huge surge in executive acts: Study
    on August 5, 2020 at 11:54 am

    - Between March and May 2020, the government of Jair Bolsonaro published 195 infralegal acts — ordinances, normative instructions, decrees and other measures — which critics say are an indirect means of dismantling Brazil’s environmental laws and bypassing Congress. During the same period in 2019, just 16 such acts were published.- In April, 2020 Environment Minister Ricardo Salles suggested that the administration “run the cattle” which experts say, within the context Salles used the phrase, is a euphemism for utilizing the COVID-19 crisis as a means of distracting Brazilians from the administration’s active undermining of the environmental rule of law.- A partial study of the 195 acts has found that they, among other things, allow rural landowners who illegally deforested and occupied conserved areas in the Atlantic Forest up to July 2008 to receive full amnesty for their crimes. Another change pays indemnities to those who expropriated properties within federal conservation units.- Shifts in administration management responsibilities have also resulted in what experts say is a weakening of regulations granting and managing national forests, and the relaxation of supervision over fisheries that could allow increased illegal trafficking in tropical fish. A study of the repercussions of all 195 acts is continuing.

  • Amazon gold mining wipes out rainforest regeneration for years: Study
    on August 4, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    - New research looking at Amazon artisanal gold mining in Guyana has found that the destroyed Amazon forest at mining sites shows no sign of recovery three to four years after a mine pit and tailings pond are abandoned, likely largely due to soil nutrient depletion.- In addition, mercury contamination at the sites drops after a mine is abandoned; mercury is used to process gold. Mercury being a chemical element, it does not break down but can bioaccumulate, so its onsite disappearance means the toxin is possibly leaching into local waters, entering fish, and poisoning riverine people who eat them.- The solution would be the proper restoration of mine sites, especially the proper filling in of mine holes and tailing ponds imitating replacement by natural topsoil. Better regulations, much bigger fines and other penalties, along with enforcement of mining laws would also help seriously curb the problem, say researchers.- But so long as the price of gold continues topping $1,700 an ounce (as it did during the 2008 U.S. housing crisis), or $2,000 an ounce (its current price during the still escalating COVID-19 pandemic), it seems likely that there is little that can curb the enthusiasm of poor and wealthy prospectors alike for digging up the Amazon.

  • Deaths of Yanomami babies from COVID-19 bring anguish to mothers
    on August 3, 2020 at 11:55 am

    - Three indigenous babies from the Yanomami Indigenous group who died with suspected COVID-19 infection were buried in a cemetery in the city of Boa Vista, in Brazil’s Roraima state, far from their villages.- Their mothers don’t speak Portuguese and likely had no understanding of what would happen to their children’s bodies.- It is a Yanomami tradition to cremate their dead, and the ritual can take more than a year to complete.- Indigenous people are now reluctant to seek medical treatment for fear that their bodies will not be returned to the community if they die. A local NGO says the handling of the case shows continued disrespect for Indigenous culture.

  • Goldminers overrun Amazon indigenous lands as COVID-19 surges
    on July 30, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    - Reports filed by NGOs including the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) and Greenpeace Brazil say that a major invasion of indigenous reserves and conservation units is underway, prompted by miners well backed with expensive equipment supplied by wealthy elites.- Miners are emboldened, say the NGOs, by the inflammatory anti-indigenous and anti-environmental rhetoric of the Jair Bolsonaro administration which has sent a clear signal so far, that it has no major plans of stopping the invasions or penalizing the perpetrators.- Through June of this year, deforestation by mining within conserved areas represented 67.9% of total tree loss in Legal Amazonia. From January to June, illegal mining destroyed 2,230 hectares (5,510 acres) of forest inside conservation units (UCs) and 1,016 hectares (2,510 acres) inside indigenous territories (TIs).- The miners’ onslaught also poses a serious COVID-19 threat. The virus has so far infected at least 14,647 indigenous people and caused 269 deaths on indigenous lands. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro is pressing for passage of legislation authorizing mining on indigenous lands; presently the bill is stalled in the house of deputies.



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