Area burned in Amazonia
This page collects data published of the extent of land burned in the Amazon biome in Brazil. The data is sourced from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). All data is in square kilometers.
for the month
Number of hotspots
This page collects data published of the number of hotspots recorded in the Amazon biome in Brazil. The data is sourced from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). All data is the number of hotspots recorded.
for the month
Game changer: NASA data tool could revolutionize Amazon fire analysis
- The Amazon has already seen more forest fires this year than in all of 2019, according to satellite data made available in August 2020 by a new NASA fire analysis tool.- While there are several good fire monitoring satellite systems currently at work above the Amazon, NASA’s new automated system provides near real time monitoring which could allow firefighting teams on the ground to pinpoint fires in remote areas and to take action to put fires out before they spread.- The new system also differentiates between fires in newly deforested areas, understory forest fires, grassland fires and those set by smallholders to annually clear fields. This differentiation allows authorities to zero in on large scale criminal arson committed by land grabbers, while also preventing the criminalization of subsistence farmers.- New information provided by the innovative NASA monitoring tool can count fire carbon emissions and the location and size of burnt areas, all of which could further research on global climate change, mitigation, and biodiversity impacts.
Rise in Amazon deforestation slows in August, but fires surge
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was more than 20 percent lower for the second straight month according to data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE. But forest loss in the world’s largest rainforest remains well above the average of the past decade.- INPE’s analysis of satellite data indicates that 1,359 square kilometers of forest — an area 23 times the size of Manhattan — were cleared last month, a 20.7% drop from August 2019. That follows a 26.7% drop in July.- However INPE’s deforestation data excludes forest loss from fires. More than 1,000 major fires have been registered in the region since late May. Fires in the Amazon have accelerated rapidly in recent weeks, rising to 53 major fires per day in September, up from 18 in August and 2 in July.- Despite the relative decline during the past two months, deforestation detected by INPE’s short-term alert system has amounted to 8,850 square kilometers over the past year, 10% higher than a year ago when Amazon deforestation hit the highest level since 2008.
Survival of Indigenous communities at risk as Amazon fire season advances
- The number of major Amazon fires this year has more than doubled since August 13, with most of those fires being illegal. 674 major fires were detected between May 28 and September 2, with a sharp increase inside Indigenous territories in the last two weeks, raising concerns among Indigenous leaders.- Indigenous groups are being left to fight the fires on their own, without support from government institutions. IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency has been largely stripped of funds and lacks adequate equipment to fight the blazes, while the Army, sent to the Amazon in May, is reportedly failing to suppress most fires.- Combined with COVID-19, smoke from fires poses a serious threat to Indigenous health. Native peoples have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and have weaker immune systems for respiratory disease. A recent study shows that Indigenous hospitalizations for respiratory disease coincide with deforestation rates year-by-year.- Isolated Indigenous groups are especially under threat as fires put their food sources at risk. Experts say that isolated and uncontacted groups, to fend off hunger, are sighted more often roaming during Amazon fires, potentially risking exposure to Western diseases.
Podcast: In the Amazon, women are key to forest conservation
- Women are a driving force in the movement to protect the Amazon rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world.- Joining us on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast is environmental journalist Sarah Sax, who recently wrote about the Women Warriors of the Forest, an all-female Indigenous group that is employing new tactics and building new alliances to protect the forests they call home.- We also interview Dr. Dolors Armenteras, who is a pioneer in the use of remote sensing to monitor Amazon forests and biodiversity, and has been named one of the most influential scientists studying forest fires.- Despite her pedigree, Armenteras has faced discrimination as a woman scientist, and discusses how she is supporting the next generation of women scientists to help them overcome such biases.
Greenpeace photos illuminate illegal Amazon fires
- The aerial images — captured by photographer Christian Braga over the states of Rondonia, Amazonas, and Mato Grosso from August 16-18, 2020 — show fires burning through recently deforested areas, agricultural areas, degraded forests, and on the edges of dense tropical forests.- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued a 120-day ban on fires July 15th, 2020, but satellite data shows the decree is being widely ignored.- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has sharply increased since Bolsonaro took office in January 2019.
Friday night follies: Brazil cuts deforestation funding, then restores it
- More than 500 major fires were reported in the Amazon as of last week, most of them illegal. Which is why it seemed a strange moment for Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro administration to announce it was defunding all deforestation and firefighting efforts by government agencies in the Amazon forest and Pantanal wetlands biomes.- The cuts, totaling R $60 million (US $11.1 million), would have come from the budgets of IBAMA, the nation’s environmental agency, and ICMBio, its national parks agency. Within hours of the funding reduction announcement, the government reversed itself and restored the money taken away.- Since then experts have argued theories as to the reason for the government’s erratic actions. Some say it is a means of making a show of the anti-environmental policy the administration would truly like to put forward, but cannot for fear of international censure. Others see it as political maneuvering with the Bolsonaro administration.- Analysts point out that the budget cuts made no fiscal sense, since IBAMA’s most expensive contracts for helicopter and vehicle rentals to curb deforestation and do firefighting are paid up through April 2021 by the Amazon Fund, money mostly provided by Norway and Germany, with more than R $60 million available.
Despite expanding fires, Brazil suspends operations to combat Amazon deforestation
- Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment announced it will suspend all operations to combat illegal deforestation and fire in the Amazon and Pantanal on Monday, August 31, 2020.- In a statement published on its official web site, the ministry said it would demobilize staff and resources across two agencies: the environmental protection agency IBAMA and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation. The suspension affects 1,805 firefighters, 401 inspectors, six helicopters, 144 vehicles, and ten aircraft.- The ministry said the decision is the result of a federal budget cut of 60.6 million Brazilian reais.- The cut comes as fires are currently burning widely across the Amazon.
Bleak milestone: 500 major fires detected in Brazilian Amazon this year
- 516 major fires, most of them illegal, covering 376,416 hectares (912,863 acres) were detected between May 28 and August 25, 2020, with the Amazon fire season not even half over, and expected to run at least through September.- Of those fires, 12% were within intact forests, while the rest were in recently deforested areas where the cut trees were allowed to dry out before being lit on fire to convert the former rainforest to cattle pasture and croplands.- Most of these fires were illegal, being in direct defiance of a total Amazon fire ban issued by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on July 15, 2020.- IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, which annually fought Amazon fires in the past, has a greatly diminished role this year, having largely been defunded by the Bolsonaro administration. Fire suppression this year falls to the Brazilian Army, which has little experience controlling Amazon blazes.
Key Amazon grain route blocked by Indigenous protest over funding, Grainrail
- The Kayapó Mekrãgnoti Indigenous people have been blockading the BR-163 highway since 17 August. The BR-163 is a primary route for soy and corn being moved from Brazil’s Amazon interior toward the Atlantic coast for export to China and the European Union.- The closure is in protest of potentially lost federal funding that the Kayapó Mekrãgnoti use in part to self-protect the Baú and Mekrãgnoti Indigenous Territories from invasion by land grabbers and illegal loggers. The reserve covers 11.3 million hectares (43,630 square miles) in Pará state.- A second source of conflict: GrainRail, a proposed 934 kilometer (580 mile) railroad, which would run parallel to the BR-163. The railway’s development has been approved by the Brazilian government without an internationally required Indigenous consultation, according to the Kayapó Mekrãgnoti people.- A federal judge has ordered police to remove the blockade, but a meeting is scheduled for today and expected to run late into the evening to seek a negotiated settlement. The Kayapó Mekrãgnoti are also demanding COVID-19 assistance. So far, 403 Indigenous people from the reserves have been infected and four have died, all elders.
Can we predict where Amazon fires will occur? And to what end?
- If it was possible to accurately forecast where Amazon fires were most likely to occur each year, it should theoretically be far easier to prevent and control those fires.- Amazon fires are currently predicted in two ways: first, based on deforestation, much of it illegal, that occurs in the wet months before the annual fire season; it is these deforested areas that are most often set on fire in the dry months of July through September.- Second, it’s also possible to predict the approximate severity and Amazon region in which fires may occur based on climate and drought forecasts for the biome, often based on ocean temperatures.- But being able to predict where Amazon fires might occur is only a first step. A strong, proactive government response is also needed to prevent and control fires, and in order to apprehend and prosecute those who set them ablaze in the Amazon.