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
Brazilian Amazon protected areas ‘in flames’ as land-grabbers invade
- The Área de Proteção Ambiental (APA) Triunfo do Xingu spans some 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres). Its dense forests boast a rich diversity of plant and animal species, and it is also home to Indigenous groups and traditional peoples who rely on the forest to survive.- But the area has come under pressure, becoming one of the most deforested regions in the Amazon in recent years. Overall, the territory has lost nearly 30% of its forest cover, with some 5% cleared in 2019 alone.- The number of fires has soared in Triunfo do Xingu too. Over the last two months, NASA satellites picked up 3,842 fire alerts in the territory. August and September – when Brazil’s fire season is normally at its peak – are expected to bring even more intense burning.- The area has emerged as an epicenter of land-grabbing and illegal mining, amid a surge in invaders who are betting that the Bolsonaro administration will eventually loosen or scrap protections of the land they are occupying.
Scientists measure Amazon drought and deforestation feedback loop: Study
- Researchers have warned about the Amazon rainforest-to-savanna tipping point for years, but a clearer picture of how this may happen is emerging with new research.- A recent study covering the years 2003-2014 in the Amazon basin found that the deforestation-drought feedback loop accounts for 4% of the region’s drought, and 0.13% of deforestation per millimeter of rainfall lost (for example, a rainfall decrease of 200 millimeters would then trigger an additional 26% increase in deforestation).- Experts not connected with the study say that the actual percentages could be higher, because Brazilian politics have shifted since 2003-14, leading to major deforestation, while climate change impacts have intensified. The authors agree their results may be underestimated, but say the figures are useful in setting a baseline for climate models.- Deforestation and drying in the Amazon could cause the rainforest to spiral into becoming a degraded, dry savanna if nothing is done to deactivate the feedback loop. However, it is difficult to say how soon that tipping point will be reached.
Amazon fires rage despite official ban, Greenpeace photos reveal
- Landholders in the Brazilian Amazon are continuing to burn forests despite an official government ban on burning in the region, photographs released today by Greenpeace Brazil reveal.- The photos, captured during flyovers conducted between July 7th and 10th in the state of Mato Grosso, documented fires in recently cleared areas and adjacent forests.- Greenpeace’s photos come a week after Brazil’s national space research institute INPE released data showing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased for the past 15 consecutive months, putting the 12-month rate 96% higher than when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019.- Independent assessments of the situation in the Amazon by Imazon, a Brazilian NGO, and the Amazon Conservation Association’s MAAP Initiative, an international NGO, are consistent with INPE’s data, showing a strong increase in forest loss this year.
Top Amazon deforestation satellite researcher sacked by Bolsonaro
- The 12-month deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon has risen 96% since President Jair Bolsonaro took office, and the extent of deforestation over the past year is the highest recorded since INPE, Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research, started releasing monthly statistics in 2007.- Three days after publication of this new data, the Bolsonaro administration removed researcher Lubia Vinhas from the position of general coordinator for INPE’s Earth Observation Agency which oversees the monitoring of Amazon deforestation.- The government claims that the removal of Vinhas is occurring as part of an INPE bureaucracy reshuffling to improve efficiency. However, environmental NGOs are suspicious, noting that last August, Bolsonaro fired INPE Director Ricardo Galvão after he similarly published new data showing rapidly rising Amazon deforestation rates.- Analysts note that the INPE report on soaring deforestation, and the dismissal of Vinhas, both come as Bolsonaro is being assailed by criticism from international and Brazilian businesses and investment firms, as well as EU nations, for Brazil’s poor environmental record, especially regarding deforestation and climate change.
Prosecutors target Brazil’s environment minister over dismantling of protections
- On June 6, federal prosecutors in Brazil filed a lawsuit seeking the dismissal of the environment minister, Ricardo Salles, alleging “countless initiatives that violate the duty to protect the environment.”- Since he took office at the start of 2019 under President Jair Bolsonaro, Salles has worked to weaken the country’s main federal environmental agencies, IBAMA and ICMBio, including slashing the number of regional positions and offices and weakening control of protected areas.- He has also appointed police officials to key roles in supervisory agencies, frustrating experts who say those positions should go to experts who understand the issues.- Staff report that a gag order has been in force under Salles, and that they now work in a climate of persecution and threats, both open and veiled.
Brazil bows to pressure from business, decrees 120-day Amazon fire ban
- 38 transnational companies in the agricultural, industrial, mining and service sectors, along with four major business associations, sent a letter Monday to Brazil VP Hamilton Mourão, president of the Amazon Council, asking him to address “environmental irregularities and crime in the Amazon and other Brazilian biomes.”- The letter — backed by Amaggi, Suzano, Vale, Bradesco, Alcoa, Bayer, Shell, Siemens, among others — comes just weeks before this year’s Amazon fire season begins, and as criticism of rapid Amazon deforestation under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro intensifies in the European Union and threatens the EU-Mercusor trade agreement.- The administration — long resistant to all efforts to redirect its Amazon development and environmental policies — responded today announcing a decree for a 120-day ban on fires in the Amazon. The Army has also been deployed to the region to guard against a replay of last year’s wildfires. Analysts say this is not near enough to curb rampant deforestation.- The business letter came just weeks after 32 international financial institutions that manage US$4.5 trillion in assets told Brazil that if it didn’t curb deforestation they would stop investing in Brazil. The problem, say critics, is Bolsonaro has set new policies that greatly undermine past socio-environmental safeguards, policies which need to be reversed.
World’s biggest trade deal in trouble over EU anger at Brazil deforestation
- The trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), is the biggest trade treaty ever negotiated. Signed a year ago, the US$19 trillion deal’s ratification could fail due to Brazil’s refusal to respond.- At the end of June, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that his nation will not make “any trade agreement with countries that do not respect the Paris [Climate] Agreement,” a direct reference to the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who has pursued an aggressive policy to develop the Amazon.- The Dutch parliament, Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg, plus some EU parliamentarians, and NGOs are opposed to the deal, saying it brings unfair competition to EU farmers and accelerates Amazon deforestation. French and Brazilian business interests and diplomats meet this week to try and settle differences.- Brazil’s Bolsonaro has so far been unmoved by all these objections. While the government plans to launch a PR campaign to convince the EU to ratify the trade agreement, it continues pressing forward with plans to allow industrial mining and agribusiness intrusion into Amazon indigenous reserves and conserved areas.
COVID-19 and rainforest fires set up potential public health crisis
- Peaking fires in the world’s rainforests combined with the global COVID-19 pandemic threaten to create a devastating public health crisis, experts warn.- The fires typically follow recent deforestation, as farmers and ranchers burn brush and trees to make way for crops and livestock.- Soot from the fires causes severe respiratory problems and exacerbates existing conditions, health researchers say. The uptick in the need for treatment could overwhelm already-strained hospitals in the Amazon and Southeast Asia.- Researchers say that solutions exist, involving government enforcement, consumer demand for deforestation-free products, and company commitments to halt the destruction of forests. Now what’s needed is political will.
Overlap of fire, COVID-19 peaks: A ‘catastrophe’ for Brazil’s Amazon
- Scientists at the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project, an initiative of the Amazon Conservation Association, have discovered the first major fire of 2020 in the Brazilian Amazon.- The team has developed a new app that uses aerosol and fire alert data gathered from satellites to pinpoint significant fires across the world’s largest rainforest.- Another report, led by scientists at Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (INPE), indicates that the continued rise in cases of COVID-19 combined with the approach of fire season in the Amazon could overwhelm the Amazon region’s clinics due to the increase in respiratory diseases as a result of the fires.- Higher-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean may also lead to drought in the southwestern Brazilian Amazon, exacerbating fire risk, air pollution, and the incidence of respiratory ailments, especially among children.
Kafka in the Amazon: Volunteer forest fire fighter charged with arson still in limbo
- 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.