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-Nov-22
Table: Monthly deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
|Month||DETER||DETER TTM||SAD||SAD TTM|
In August 2016, the table data for the DETER columns switches from DETER to DETER-B, Brazil’s new deforestation detection system.
Indigenous leader who fought for communities and conservation mourned in Peru
- Benjamín Rodríguez Grandez, a leader from the Huitoto tribe who dedicated his life to preserving Indigenous customs and the natural resources they depend on in the Peruvian Amazon, died of COVID-19 on July 16, 2020.- Rodríguez was a key player in efforts to lobby for the creation of Peru’s Yaguas National Park, an area of 868,927 hectares (2.15 million acres) of forest home to more than 3,000 species of plants, 500 species of birds, and 550 fish species.- He was also a teacher and a “judge of the peace,” a special title in Peru that allows community leaders to resolve certain disputes even if they don’t have a law degree.- “If Benjamín convened the meeting, everyone attended,” one source told Mongabay. “He had that influence in the area.”
Trans-Purus: Brazil’s last intact Amazon forest at immediate risk (commentary)
- Brazil’s remaining Amazon forest is roughly divided in half by the Purus River, just west of the notorious BR-319 (Manaus-Porto Velho) highway. To the west of the river lies the vast “Trans-Purus” region — intact rainforest stretching to the Peruvian border. To the east, the forest is already heavily deforested, degraded and fragmented.- Multiple threats are now closing in on the Trans-Purus region, and expected to increase greatly with the impending “reconstruction” of the BR-319. Planned roads linked to the BR-319 would open the Trans-Purus region to land grabbers (grileiros), organized landless farmers (sem-terras) and other actors from Brazil’s “arc of deforestation.”- A massive planned gas and oil project would also likely lead to new road connections to the other planned highways in the Trans-Purus area, opening even more of the region to invasion. Asian oil palm and logging companies are among those with a historical interest in the area.- This last large block of intact Brazilian Amazon forest is essential for ecosystem services — maintaining biodiversity, carbon stocks, and the forest water cycling functions essential for rainfall in other parts of Brazil and neighboring countries. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
Amazon initiative pays farmers and ranchers to keep the forest standing
- The Conserv initiative, created by nonprofit organizations in Brazil and the U.S., is paying farmers and ranchers in the Amazon to preserve more native vegetation on their land than required by law.- There are still more than 20 million hectares (49 million acres) of forest inside the Brazilian Amazon that can legally be cut.- The initiative, led by the Brazil-based Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), aims to preserve 20,000 to 30,000 hectares (49,000 to 74,000 acres) of vegetation in its first phase, at a cost of $4.5 million.
Crimefighting NGO tracks Brazil wildlife trade on WhatsApp and Facebook
- A nonprofit, the National Network Combating Wild Animal Trafficking (RENCTAS) was founded in 1999, and since then has won international awards and acclaim for its innovative approach to tracking and combating the global illegal wildlife trade, especially the sourcing of animals in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest and Cerrado savanna biomes.- The group’s pioneering strategy: use social media to track the sale and movement of animals out of Brazil, and turn over the data to law enforcement. In 1999, it identified nearly 6,000 ads featuring the illegal sale of animals on e-commerce platforms. By 2019, it reported 3.5 million advertisements for the illegal trade on social networks.- The most trafficked Brazilian animals currently: the double-collared seedeater (Sporophila caerulescens); a small, finch-like songbird with a yellow bill that thrives in the southern Cerrado, and the white-cheeked spider monkey (Ateles marginatus), found across the Amazon basin. Sales of animals have been tracked to 200+ illegal trafficking organizations.- Tragically, of the millions of Brazilian animals captured, sold, resold, and transported, only an estimated 1 in 10 ever reach Brazilian and foreign consumers alive. The rest, ripped from their homes, starved and abused, die in transit.
The Amazon’s Yanomami utterly abandoned by Brazilian authorities: Report
- A new report highlights the escalating existential crisis among the 30,000 Indigenous people living in the Yanomami Territory, covering 9,664,975 hectares (37,317 square miles) in northern Brazil. Data shows that the Yanomami reserve is in the top ten areas now most prone to illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.- The report accuses Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazilian government of abandoning the Yanomami to the invasion of their territory by tens-of-thousands of illegal miners. While the administration has launched sporadic operations to stop these incursions, the miners return as soon as police leave the reserve.- Bolsonaro is also accused of having done little to combat COVID-19 or provide basic healthcare. As a result, pandemic case numbers have grown by 250% in the last three months, now possibly infecting 10,000 Yanomami and Ye’kwana, about a third of the reserve’s entire population, with deaths recorded among adults and children.- “Children, young people and the generations to come deserve to live healthy lives in their forest home. Their futures should not be cut off by the actions of a genocidal administration,” says the report compiled by the Yanomami and Ye’kwana and a network of academics. Brazil’s Health Ministry denied the charge of negligence.
Multiplying Amazon river ports open new Brazil-to-China commodities routes
- Nearly 100 major industrial river ports have been built on the Brazilian Amazon’s major rivers over the past two decades. Many of the projects have been internationally financed and built by commodities companies with little government oversight.- These ports have transformed the region, opening it to agribusiness and the export of commodities, especially soy, to China and the rest of the world. However, this boom in port infrastructure often came at the expense of the environment and traditional riverine communities.- Today, more than 40 additional major river ports are planned in the Amazon biome on the Tapajós, Tocantins, Madeira and other rivers, projects again being pursued largely without taking cumulative socioenvironmental impacts into account.- “What resources do these soy men bring to our city?” asked Manoel Munduruku, an Indigenous leader. “They only bring destruction.”
‘CSI Amazon’: Epic study looks at what’s killing the rainforest’s trees
- A newly published study provides insight into why trees die in the Amazon, and why the rate of tree death may be increasing. The main risk factor explaining tree death was the mean growth rate of species.- More than half, 51%, of tree deaths observed over the 30-year study were attributed to structural damage, mostly from windstorms.- Different regions of the Amazon showed different risk factors for trees: Overall, the southern and western Amazon had higher mortality rates; wind seemed to do more damage in the western Amazon, whereas the southern Amazon had more tree death due to water stress and drought.- The findings have major implications for the fight against climate change, given that the Amazon accounts for 12% of land-based carbon sink, but is losing that capacity as tree mortality increases.
As 2020 Amazon fire season winds down, Brazil carbon emissions rise
- 2,500+ major blazes burned across Brazil’s Legal Amazon between late May and early November. Many were on recently deforested lands, indicative of land grabbers converting forests to pastures and croplands, while others were within conserved areas and Indigenous reserves. Of concern: 41% of burns were in standing forests.- Estimates say that nearly 5.4 million acres (2.2 million hectares) of Brazil’s Amazon standing rainforest burned this year — an area roughly the size of the country of Wales in the United Kingdom.- Brazil’s soaring deforestation rates and Amazon fires point to another problem: the nation is not on track to meet its 2020 goals under the Paris Climate Agreement for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, carbon emissions in Brazil did not fall, but rose by 9.6%, in 2019, the first year of President Jair Bolsonaro’s four-year term.- Under its UN climate commitments, Brazil is only required to measure fire-related greenhouse gas emissions from newly deforested lands, not from fires in standing forests. A questionable practice, say some critics, as fires in the Amazon are routinely set by people and escape into forests. The highest CO2 emissions from forest fires in the Amazon don’t happen during the burn, but years later, a new study concludes, complicating emission estimates.
Brazil’s Bem Querer dam: An impending Amazon disaster (commentary)
- Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has announced his administration’s priorities for Amazon dams, including the planned Bem Querer dam on the Rio Branco in the far-northern state of Roraima.- Bem Querer is primarily intended to increase the energy supply to industries in locations outside of Amazonia, rather than for residents of Roraima.- Probable environmental impacts include blocking fish migrations and flooding a riparian forest that possesses extraordinary bird diversity. Downstream flow alteration would impact protected areas, including two Ramsar wetland biodiversity sites. Riverside dwellers would also be impacted.- Sediment flow blockage would impact fisheries and the unique Anavilhanas Archipelago, a spectacular Brazilian national park. These adverse impacts need to be fully evaluated before a decision to build is made. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Conserve freshwater or land biodiversity? Why not both, new study asks
- Freshwater ecosystems, such as rivers, lakes and streams, are home to 10% of all described species, but are often overlooked in conservation planning and their populations have shown rapid declines in recent decades.- An analysis of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity in two regions of the Amazon Basin found that conservation planning aimed only at plants and animals on land tends not to benefit freshwater species, whereas taking a freshwater focus benefited species in both realms.- The widest benefits can be achieved with an integrated approach, the study found: considering the needs and sensitivities of both terrestrial and freshwater creatures increased freshwater benefits by 62-345% on average, with just a 1% trade-off to terrestrial benefits.- The study highlights the urgent need for freshwater biodiversity conservation in the Amazon, and comes as policymakers and stakeholders prepare to negotiate new goals, targets and conservation frameworks for the coming decades.