Monitoring deforestation in the Amazon

This page collects deforestation alert data published by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and Imazon, a Brazilian NGO. INPE’s system is called DETER for Sistema de Detecção do Desmatamento na Amazônia Legal em Tempo Real, while Imazon’s system is called SAD for Sistema de Alerta de Deforestation.

As explained here, month-to-month deforestation is highly variable. Short-term, alert-based deforestation detection systems do not penetrate cloud cover, so during the rainy season — from roughly November to April — estimates are notoriously unreliable when compared to the same month a year earlier. Furthermore, most forest clearing in the Amazon occurs when it is dry. So if the dry season is early, deforestation may increase earlier than normal. For these reasons, the most accurate deforestation comparisons are made year-on-year. For Brazil, the deforestation “year” ends July 31: the peak of the dry season when the largest extent of forest is typically visible via satellite.

Short-term data isn’t useless though — it can provide insights on trends, especially over longer periods of time. Generally, comparing 12 consecutive months of alert data will provide a pretty good indication of deforestation relative to other years. Therefore the charts below include monthly data as well as the 12-month moving average (Trailing Twelve Months = “TTM”).

Last update: 2020-May-15

Table: Monthly deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

Month DETER DETER TTM SAD SAD TTM
Apr 2008 1,124 156
May 2008 1,096 9,190 294 5,603
Jun 2008 871 9,064 612 5,716
Jul 2008 324 8,536 276 5,031
Aug 2008 757 7,835 102 4,470
Sep 2008 587 8,400 321 3,679
Oct 2008 541 8,457 102 3,257
Nov 2008 355 8,554 61 2,251
Dec 2008 177 8,013 50 2,233
Jan 2009 222 7,342 51 2,202
Feb 2009 143 6,925 62 2,201
Mar 2009 18 6,343 57 2,144
Apr 2009 37 6,214 121 2,109
May 2009 124 5,127 157 1,972
Jun 2009 578 4,155 150 1,510
Jul 2009 836 3,862 532 1,766
Aug 2009 498 4,375 273 1,937
Sep 2009 400 4,116 216 1,832
Oct 2009 176 3,929 194 1,924
Nov 2009 72 3,564 74 1,937
Dec 2009 3,281 16 1,903
Jan 2010 23 3,104 63 1,915
Feb 2010 185 2,905 88 1,941
Mar 2010 52 2,947 76 1,960
Apr 2010 52 2,981 65 1,904
May 2010 110 2,996 96 1,843
Jun 2010 244 2,982 172 1,865
Jul 2010 485 2,647 155 1,488
Aug 2010 265 2,296 210 1,425
Sep 2010 448 2,063 170 1,379
Oct 2010 389 2,111 153 1,338
Nov 2010 121 2,324 65 1,329
Dec 2010 21 2,372 175 1,488
Jan 2011 36 2,394 83 1,508
Feb 2011 1 2,407 63 1,483
Mar 2011 116 2,223 46 1,453
Apr 2011 477 2,287 298 1,686
May 2011 268 2,712 165 1,755
Jun 2011 313 2,871 99 1,682
Jul 2011 225 2,940 93 1,620
Aug 2011 163 2,680 240 1,650
Sep 2011 254 2,578 170 1,650
Oct 2011 386 2,384 102 1,599
Nov 2011 133 2,381 16 1,550
Dec 2011 75 2,393 40 1,415
Jan 2012 22 2,446 33 1,365
Feb 2012 307 2,432 107 1,409
Mar 2012 60 2,737 53 1,416
Apr 2012 233 2,681 71 1,189
May 2012 99 2,437 43 1,067
Jun 2012 108 2,268 35 1,003
Jul 2012 214 2,062 140 1,050
Aug 2012 522 2,051 232 1,042
Sep 2012 283 2,410 431 1,303
Oct 2012 277 2,439 487 1,688
Nov 2012 205 2,331 55 1,727
Dec 2012 131 2,403 82 1,769
Jan 2013 9 2,459 35 1,771
Feb 2013 270 2,447 45 1,709
Mar 2013 28 2,410 80 1,736
Apr 2013 147 2,378 140 1,805
May 2013 465 2,293 84 1,846
Jun 2013 210 2,659 184 1,995
Jul 2013 217 2,762 152 2,007
Aug 2013 289 2,766 185 1,960
Sep 2013 443 2,532 103 1,632
Oct 2013 155 2,692 43 1,188
Nov 2013 108 2,569 37 1,170
Dec 2013 93 2,472 56 1,144
Jan 2014 75 2,434 107 1,216
Feb 2014 119 2,500 11 1,182
Mar 2014 53 2,349 20 1,122
Apr 2014 166 2,374 100 1,082
May 2014 271 2,394 185 1,183
Jun 2014 535 2,200 843 1,842
Jul 2014 729 2,525 355 2,045
Aug 2014 890 3,036 437 2,297
Sep 2014 736 3,638 402 2,596
Oct 2014 298 3,931 244 2,797
Nov 2014 77 4,074 195 2,955
Dec 2014 85 4,043 95 2,994
Jan 2015 129 4,035 289 3,176
Feb 2015 61 4,089 42 3,207
Mar 2015 155 4,031 58 3,245
Apr 2015 334 4,133 137 3,282
May 2015 588 4,301 389 3,486
Jun 2015 855 4,618 494 3,137
Jul 2015 914 4,937 542 3,324
Aug 2015 654 5,122 415 3,302
Sep 2015 504 4,885 229 3,129
Oct 2015 377 4,653 230 3,115
Nov 2015 240 4,732 99 3,019
Dec 2015 89 4,896 175 3,099
Jan 2016 63 4,899 52 2,862
Feb 2016 534 4,832 0 2,820
Mar 2016 123 5,305 213 2,975
Apr 2016 436 5,274 183 3,021
May 2016 784 5,375 474 3,106
Jun 2016 1,431 5,571 972 3,584
Jul 2016 738 6,147 539 3,581
Aug 2016 1,023 5,972 582 3,748
Sep 2016 688 6,160 387 3,906
Oct 2016 741 6,350 202 3,878
Nov 2016 366 6,403 37 3,816
Dec 2016 17 6,147 0 3,641
Jan 2017 58 5,971 42 3,631
Feb 2017 101 5,956 0 3,631
Mar 2017 74 5,721 97 3,515
Apr 2017 125 5,420 96 3,428
May 2017 348 5,238 365 3,319
Jun 2017 589 4,876 537 2,884
Jul 2017 455 4,585 544 2,889
Aug 2017 289 3,852 184 2,491
Sep 2017 393 3,556 241 2,345
Oct 2017 456 3,272 261 2,404
Nov 2017 359 3,265 56 2,423
Dec 2017 289 3,538 184 2,607
Jan 2018 179 3,658 70 2,635
Feb 2018 151 3,708 214 2,849
Mar 2018 358 3,993 287 3,039
Apr 2018 508 4,376 217 3,160
May 2018 538 4,565 634 3,429
Jun 2018 505 4,481 1,169 4,061
Jul 2018 610 4,635 778 4,295
Aug 2018 520 4,865 545 4,656
Sep 2018 723 5,195 444 4,859
Oct 2018 491 5,230 187 4,785
Nov 2018 265 5,136 287 5,016
Dec 2018 66 4,914 246 5,078
Jan 2019 140 4,875 108 5,116
Feb 2019 131 4,855 93 4,995
Mar 2019 242 4,739 67 4,775
Apr 2019 238 4,468 195 4,753
May 2019 702 4,633 797 4,916
Jun 2019 919 5,048 801 4,548
Jul 2019 2,092 6,530 1,287 5,057
Aug 2019 1,695 7,706 886 5,398
Sep 2019 1,443 8,427 802 5,756
Oct 2019 555 8,491 583 6,152
Nov 2019 523 8,749 354 6,219
Dec 2019 187 8,870 227 6,200
Jan 2020 284 9,013 188 6,280
Feb 2020 186 9,068 102 6,289
Mar 2020 327 9,152 324 6,546
Apr 2020 405 9,320


In August 2016, the table data for the DETER columns switches from DETER to DETER-B, Brazil’s new deforestation detection system.

  • Brazilian court orders 20,000 gold miners removed from Yanomami Park

    - The Yanomami Park covers 37,000 square miles in the Brazilian Amazon on the Venezuelan border; it is inhabited by 13,000 Yanomami. Soaring gold prices have resulted in a massive ongoing invasion of the indigenous territory by gold miners who are well supported with monetary backing, heavy equipment and aircraft.- On 3 July, a federal judge issued an emergency ruling ordering the Jair Bolsonaro administration to come up with an immediate plan to stop the spread of the pandemic to Yanomami Park, a plan which must include the removal of all 20,000 invading miners within ten days. Brazil’s Vice President pledges to back the plan.- That eviction must stay in effect until the danger to the Yanomami of the pandemic passes. There have so far been five Yanomami deaths due to the disease and 168 confirmed cases. More are expected.- The invasion has also resulted in violent clashes between miners and indigenous people. In mid-June two Yanomami were killed in a conflict, evoking fears of a replay of retaliatory violence that occurred in the 1990s. In response to the current crisis, the Yanomami have launched their “Miners Out, Covid Out” campaign.

  • 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.

  • Discovery of fish never recorded in the Amazon shows richness of Brazil’s Calha Norte

    - Brazilian scientists have identified six fish species never before seen in the Amazon in Calha Norte, in the state of Pará, one of the best-preserved and least studied parts of the rainforest.- Calha Norte lies north of the Amazon River, along the border with Guyana and Suriname, where those species were previously thought to be endemic, and 80% of its area is protected within conservation areas and Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian territories.- Even though it is remote and hard to reach, illegal hunting, mining and deforestation are already placing local biodiversity at risk.- These threats have made research even more urgent, with scientists warning the risk is that species will disappear before they are ever described.

  • Gold priced at $1,700 per ounce brings new gold rush to Brazilian Amazon

    - Global instability brought on by the Coronavirus and the meltdown of the world economy has sent gold prices soaring to US$1,700 per ounce, their highest value in 10 years. That surge has triggered a new, intensified gold rush in the Brazilian Amazon as entrepreneurs invest in expensive equipment and cheap labor.- While some Amazon gold mining is legally permitted, much isn’t. The lucrative, unpoliced industry is causing deforestation, river destruction, mercury contamination (the element used in gold ore processing), and an invasion by hundreds of thousands of miners who could spread COVID-19 to the region.- Despite being an illegal activity, large gold mining dredges operate openly in Porto Velho, the capital of Rondônia state. Our Mongabay reporting team followed the daily lives of a dredge-owning entrepreneur and his crew of garimpeiros as they searched for the precious metal in the waters of the Madeira River.

  • Brazil’s indigenous hit especially hard by COVID-19: why so vulnerable?

    - At least 78 indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon are infected by COVID-19, with 3,662 individuals testing positive and 249 dead among 45 of those peoples. Detailed data is lacking for the other 33 peoples. Experts say poverty, poor resistance to Western diseases, and lack of medical facilities may explain high vulnerability.- The Coordination of Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), which gathered and tallied this data, expects cases and deaths are underreported. Many leaders and elders continue dying among indigenous people, including elders of the Munduruku, Kayapó, Arara, Macuxi, and Tuyuka peoples.- COVID-19 has now penetrated the Xingu river basin, a vast area south of the Amazon River in Pará and Mato Grosso states. The Arara people there were devastated by disease and violence in the 1980s. Now, of 121 remaining Arara, almost half have tested positive for the coronavirus.- Of the 1,818 Xicrin in southwest Pará state, 270 (15%) have tested positive, with seven deaths. Analysts speculate this high infection and death rate (higher than Brazil’s general populace, and even many other indigenous groups), may be due to poor underlying health due to water allegedly polluted by a Vale nickel mine.

  • World’s top tapir expert prepares for unprecedented Amazon mission

    - Brazilian conservation biologist Patrícia Medici first won a Whitley Award, the “Green Oscars” for conservation science, in 2008; this year, she’s the recipient of the top tier of the prize, the Whitley Gold Award.- She will use the $75,000 prize to fund the new stage of her studies, in which she plans for the first time to study the lowland tapir in the Amazon.- Medici has already spent two decades studying the species, South America’s largest land mammal, in the Atlantic Forest, the Pantanal wetlands, and the Cerrado grassland.- She hopes to use the next stage of the study, in the Amazon, to expand understanding of the species by seeing how it reacts to deforestation driven by mining, large-scale agriculture, and logging.

  • ‘Betting on impunity’: Brazilian Amazon under attack despite logging crackdown

    - In mid-May, government agents raided 700 hectares of land being deforested illegally in the Querência municipality of Mato Grosso. However, local sources say that deforestation resumed shortly after the intervention. Satellite imagery shows tree cover loss continuing between late May and early June.- The affected area lies right across the river from the Wawi Indigenous Territory. Human rights advocates say the deforestation could have a big impact on communities inside the reserve by affecting water sources and introducing COVID-19 to vulnerable populations.- Brazil’s Ministry of Defense touted what it described as the “extensive results” of the government’s various crackdowns around the Amazon during a one-month effort against illegal logging in May.- However, critics say occasional interventions like the May raid in Querência aren’t an effective deterrent against illegal logging and that the Bolsonaro government’s stripping of environmental protections is making it easy for loggers to continue deforesting.

  • Illegal farms on indigenous lands get whitewashed under Bolsonaro administration

    - An exclusive study shows that 114 properties have been certified inside indigenous territories awaiting demarcation in the Brazilian Amazon, spurred in large part by a recent statute that leaves these reserves unprotected from such illegal land grabs.- The certified lands span more than 250,000 hectares (620,000 acres) inside indigenous territories, some of them authorized before FUNAI, the agency for indigenous affairs, issued the statute allowing registry on unratified lands.- Landowners have already registered claims for more than 2,000 private properties in indigenous areas inside the Amazon, including areas that are home to isolated peoples.- Indigenous groups, civil society organizations, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office and state prosecutors have denounced the statute and are challenging it in various courts.

  • Using photography and indigenous art to help Amazon communities during COVID

    - Xapiri, a Cusco-based art gallery and media production studio, is working to raise awareness of the situation and funds to help indigenous peoples navigate the COVID crisis. In response to the pandemic, Xapiri has jettisoned its plans to visit indigenous partners in the field and instead focused on online fundraising campaigns.- In a June 2020 interview with Mongabay, Jack Wheeler, Xapiri’s founder and director, spoke about his group’s work, the transition to a COVID world, and why now is a more important time than ever to support indigenous communities.

  • World Rainforest Day: The world’s great rainforests

    - June 22 is World Rainforest Day, which is a “collaborative effort to raise awareness and encourage action to protect the world’s rainforests”, according to Rainforest Partnership, which founded the event.- In recognition of World Rainforest Day, this post highlights the world’s ten largest tropical rainforests: the Amazon, the Congo, New Guinea and Australia, Sundaland, Indo-Burma, Mesoamerica, Wallacea, the Guinean Forests of West Africa, the Atlantic forest, and the Choco.- Tropical rainforests have an outsized role in the world, containing the highest concentration of species, storing more carbon in aggregate than any other terrestrial ecosystem, and supporting most of the planet’s “uncontacted” peoples.- Despite their importance however, deforestation in the world’s tropical forests has remained persistently high since the 1980s. Primary tropical forests have been destroyed at a rate of 3.2 million hectares a year since 2002.