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.
Amazon deforestation jumps sharply in April
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged during the month of April, ending a streak of three consecutive months where forest clearing had been lower than the prior year.- The rise in deforestation came despite a high-profile pledge from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to rein in deforestation in Earth’s largest rainforest.- According to preliminary deforestation alert data released Friday by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE, deforestation in the Brazilian portion of the Amazon amounted to 581 square kilometers in April, a 43% increase over April 2020- However, by INPE’s count, deforestation is still pacing behind last year’s rate, though that conclusion is contradicted by Imazon, a group that independently monitors forest clearing in the region.
Karipuna people sue Brazil government for alleged complicity in land grabs
- Leaders of the Karipuna Indigenous group in Brazil are suing the government for what they say is complicity in the continued invasion and theft of their land.- Findings by Greenpeace and the Catholic Church-affiliated Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) show 31 land claims overlapping onto the Karipuna Indigenous Reserve, while 7% of the area has already been deforested or destroyed.- The Karipuna Indigenous, who rebuilt their population to around 60 in the last few decades from just eight members who survived mass deaths by disease that followed their forced contact with the outside world in the 1970s, are seeking damages of $8.2 million, the right to permanent protection, and the cancellation of all outsider land claims to their territory.- Land grabbing has been fueled by the political rhetoric and action of President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies, who are seeking to drastically reduce protected areas in the Amazon and weaken environmental protections, activists and experts say.
Deforestation-free beef stymied by Brazil’s unequal supply chain
- A decade after signing agreements to ban deforestation caused by the beef industry, cattle ranching continues to be the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.- A study reveals disparities between ranchers and meatpackers that make it difficult for the industry to comply with the agreements and that allow deforestation to persist.- Only 100 out of 160 meatpacking plants in the study area, in southeast Pará state, have signed zero-deforestation agreements; of these, only 56 have been audited for their compliance.- Among ranches, bigger ones have the financial resources and access to technology to boost productivity without clearing forest for new pasture, while smaller ones tend not even to be formally registered, depriving them of incentives to aim for compliance.
Brazil’s Bolsonaro vowed to work with Indigenous people. Now he’s investigating them
- At least two top Indigenous leaders in Brazil, Sônia Guajajara and Almir Suruí, were recently summoned for questioning by the federal police over allegations of slander against the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.- Both probes were prompted by complaints filed by Funai, the federal agency for Indigenous affairs, just a week after Bolsonaro pledged at a global leaders’ climate summit to work together with Indigenous peoples to tackle deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.- The NGO Human Rights Watch said it’s “deeply concerned” about the government’s moves and called any retaliation against Indigenous peoples a “flagrant abuse of power,” while APIB, Brazil’s main Indigenous association, called the government’s approach a “clear attempt to curtail freedom of expression.”- Under Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil has reached its highest level since 2008, invasions of indigenous territories increased 135% in 2019, and the persecution of government critics under a draconian national security law has skyrocketed.
‘Zero illegal deforestation’ – One more Bolsonaro distortion (commentary)
- At U.S. President Joe Biden’s virtual climate summit on Earth Day, 22 April, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro promised “zero illegal deforestation by 2030.”- “Zero illegal deforestation” can be achieved in two ways: by stopping deforestation, and by legalizing the deforestation that is taking place. The second path is in full swing.- A series of laws facilitating “land grabbing” (which in Brazil means large-scale illegal appropriation of government land) is being fast-tracked in the National Congress with support from Bolsonaro.- Once grabbed land is legalized, the deforestation on it can be “amnestied” and subsequent deforestation legally permitted. The end result is more deforestation. All deforestation, legal or not, causes climate change. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Criticizing Brazil over Amazon conservation will likely backfire (commentary)
- Although Brazilians share a concern for the Amazon, and even hosted the groundbreaking Earth Summit in 1992, polls show less consensus on who is responsible for Amazon deforestation, who is best addressing this problem, or the role of foreign actors.- When activists or leaders from abroad single out Brazil and its president as bad actors on the environment, they risk potential backlash from Brazilians who often view such attacks as a double standard.- The heavy-handed tone that the Biden Administration has adopted may create unfortunate roadblocks to the progress which is possible, argue two authors from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and the University of São Paulo.- This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
In Project Amazônia 2.0, communities and technology team up for nature
- Since 2017, Project Amazônia 2.0 has used the latest developments in information technology to strengthen monitoring and conservation of Indigenous territories and traditional communities in six countries in the Amazon region.- Community members work as monitors to report on any violations or changes in the environment, and the reports and data are entered into the online platform GeoVisor in near-real-time.- In Brazil, the project began operating in 2019 in two Indigenous territories and a state park, where a total of 16 Indigenous monitors use a cellphone app to report threats to the forest.- In Peru, Amazônia 2.0 is already acknowledged by the government as a management and governance model for forests and indigenous lands.
Reversing warming quickly could prevent worst climate change effects: Study
- Irreversible and catastrophic environmental tipping points could still be avoided, even if we exceed global emission reduction targets — provided the world is able to reverse overshoot quickly, according to researchers.- Simple mathematical models of four earth system tipping elements reveal a lag between overshooting the threshold and irreversible change. “Slow-onset” elements like icecap melt operate on century-long timescales, while Amazon dieback could pass a point of no return in just decades.- However, experts warn that the models fail to take interactions between different tipping elements into account, which could shorten the amount of time a threshold can be overshot. Many of these interactions are poorly understood, making them difficult to include in climate models.- Researchers say these results show there is still good reason to take action to mitigate global warming, even if we do overshoot the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C. Some warn the study results could be used as an excuse to tolerate further delays on global climate action.
Bolsonaro abandons enhanced Amazon commitment same day he makes it
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro offered up Amazon conservation promises during the April 22 virtual Climate Leaders Summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden and attended by heads of state from more than forty nations.- That same day, Bolsonaro approved Brazil’s 2021 budget that includes a R$240 million ($44 million) annual reduction for the Ministry of the Environment. Conservationists say that the cuts will be utterly devastating for the nation’s deforestation monitoring program.- The reductions will also impact the monitoring of pollution levels, pesticide contamination (Brazil under Bolsonaro is the biggest user of pesticides in the world), illegal mining, and wildlife trafficking. ICMbio, which oversees 334 of Brazil’s protected areas, also saw cuts.- While environmentalists were enraged by the slashed ministry budget, the agricultural sector remains largely happy with Bolsonaro whose policies continue to benefit them. However, if Brazil continues along an anti-environmental path, it risks global boycotts of its commodities.
We need more rewilding and connections to nature, says Enrique Ortiz
- Enrique Ortiz is a Peruvian biologist who has been working in conservation in Latin America since the 1970s. Today he works at the Andes Amazon Fund, a philanthropic initiative that has helped establish 79 protected areas and get 18 Indigenous territories titled.- Ortiz says the pandemic has been “terrible and tragic” for both people and the environment, with a rise in poverty, violence against environmental defenders, and environmental crime and degradation.- But he also notes surprising resilience where communities and local governments have continued protecting wilderness despite COVID-19.- Ortiz spoke about these issues and more during an April 2021 conversation with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.