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|
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.