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:
- Brazilian Amazon: Monthly deforestation
- Brazilian Amazon: Monthly land use change
- Brazilian Amazon: Fires
Monthly deforestation charts – late update May 15, 2020
Coronavirus puts Brazil’s quilombos at risk; will assistance come?
on May 21, 2020 at 12:37 pm
- The Boa Vista Quilombo in Oriximiná, Pará state, is like many Brazilian quilombola communities. Quilombolas are Afro-Brazilian runaway slave descendants, and point to centuries of inequality and neglect by the government. Quilombos often lack running water, basic sanitation and health services.- In the 1970s, Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) annexed much of Boa Vista’s land and established the world’s fourth largest bauxite mine, along with a company town, Porto Trombetas, built on the former quilombo property; MRN also polluted local fisheries and provided mostly badly paid menial jobs to residents.- Now, the pandemic is exacerbating fundamental governmental and corporate inequalities, say residents. MRN, for example, asked Boa Vista residents to clean a quarantine facility used by new arrivals. The residents refused. Meanwhile, the mine is fully operational, with planes and ships coming and going regularly.- MRN says it has implemented strong preventative measures against the virus. But residents point out that the company’s hospital has just six intensive care beds; they fear, in keeping with past inequities, these beds would be reserved for MRN employees, leaving infected quilombolas without care.
As their land claim stalls, Brazil’s Munduruku face pressure from soybean farms
on May 21, 2020 at 7:15 am
- Indigenous Munduruku communities in Brazil’s Pará state have seen their crops die as agribusiness expands in the area, with soybean farmers spraying pesticides less than 10 meters (33 feet) from villages.- The streams used by the Munduruku have also been damaged, if not dried up, and even the artesian wells the communities are digging to survive appear to be contaminated.- Aside from pesticides, soybean farming has also brought fraudulent requests for land appropriation and violence against indigenous people.- The Munduruku have for the past 12 years tried to get their land demarcated as an indigenous reserve, but the process has stalled under the Bolsonaro administration.
Kafka in the Amazon: Volunteer forest fire fighter charged with arson still in limbo
on May 20, 2020 at 4:32 pm
- Alter do Châo, a small resort town within Santarém municipality in Pará state, welcomed some 200,000 tourists last year, causing real estate prices to soar, and putting increasing pressure on the Amazon resort’s surrounding forests.- Following the 2019 Amazon wildfire season, Brazilian police arrested four volunteer firefighters, accusing them of arson in the Alter do Châo Reserve. The firefighters allegedly set the fires to receive money from international environmental groups, according to the authorities. But no evidence has been presented as yet.- The investigation has dragged on for months, with one suspect still under house arrest. However, many locals believe land speculators and/or land thieves are far more likely to be responsible for last year’s blazes.- The fear expressed by many in Alter do Châo, is that lawlessness is becoming sanctioned in Amazonia due to the failure of the Bolsonaro government to prosecute socio-environmental crimes. Meanwhile, the volunteer fire brigade members continue awaiting the slow turning of Brazil’s wheels of justice.
Projeto Harpia: Saving the Amazon’s largest raptor for more than 20 years
on May 20, 2020 at 2:56 pm
- Created in 1997, Projeto Harpia has surveyed 120 harpy eagle nests in Brazil, mostly in the Amazon, but also in the Pantanal and the Atlantic Forest.- Projeto Harpia also carries out environmental education, raising awareness in the surrounding communities and collecting scientific data, and emphasizes the importance of engaging local and indigenous communities for both nest spotting and conservation.- There are an estimated 5,000 harpy eagles in the Amazon and 300 in the Atlantic Forest, with deforestation the main threat to their survival.- Like all predators at the top of the food chain, the species is vital in maintaining the balance of its ecosystem.
Indigenous COVID-19 cases top 500, danger mapped in Brazil agricultural hub
on May 18, 2020 at 5:15 pm
- 537 COVID-19 cases and 102 deaths are being reported by 38 indigenous groups in Brazil. Most of the cases are in the remote Brazilian Amazon, where communities are located far from medical assistance. Experts, citing the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to outside disease, worry the pandemic could result in a many more deaths.- In response to the pandemic, indigenous groups in Mato Grosso state have partnered with an NGO to produce a daily updated map monitoring COVID-19 outbreaks in urban areas near indigenous villages. The website is meant to keep indigenous people informed, and put pressure on national and international groups to respond.- Amid the pandemic, indigenous land rights in Mato Grosso are increasingly threatened by federal and state government policy shifts that critics say would encourage and legitimize land grabbing, illegal logging and mining inside indigenous territories.- Particularly impacted by the policy changes, should they go into effect, are isolated indigenous groups, including the Kawahiva and Piripkura peoples who roam as yet federally unrecognized indigenous reserves near the city of Colniza, Mato Grosso.