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-Nov-22

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 1,025 5,974 582 3,748
Sep 2016 691 6,164 387 3,906
Oct 2016 750 6,364 202 3,878
Nov 2016 367 6,418 37 3,816
Dec 2016 17 6,162 0 3,641
Jan 2017 58 5,986 42 3,631
Feb 2017 101 5,971 0 3,631
Mar 2017 74 5,737 97 3,515
Apr 2017 127 5,437 96 3,428
May 2017 363 5,270 365 3,319
Jun 2017 609 4,928 537 2,884
Jul 2017 458 4,639 544 2,889
Aug 2017 278 3,892 184 2,491
Sep 2017 403 3,603 241 2,345
Oct 2017 440 3,293 261 2,404
Nov 2017 354 3,280 56 2,423
Dec 2017 288 3,551 184 2,607
Jan 2018 183 3,676 70 2,635
Feb 2018 152 3,726 214 2,849
Mar 2018 357 4,008 287 3,039
Apr 2018 490 4,371 217 3,160
May 2018 550 4,557 634 3,429
Jun 2018 488 4,437 1,169 4,061
Jul 2018 596 4,576 778 4,295
Aug 2018 530 4,828 545 4,656
Sep 2018 746 5,172 444 4,859
Oct 2018 526 5,258 187 4,785
Nov 2018 277 5,181 287 5,016
Dec 2018 67 4,961 246 5,078
Jan 2019 136 4,914 108 5,116
Feb 2019 139 4,902 93 4,995
Mar 2019 251 4,796 67 4,775
Apr 2019 247 4,554 195 4,753
May 2019 739 4,743 797 4,916
Jun 2019 935 5,190 801 4,548
Jul 2019 2,255 6,849 1,287 5,057
Aug 2019 1,713 8,032 886 5,398
Sep 2019 1,453 8,739 802 5,756
Oct 2019 555 8,768 583 6,152
Nov 2019 563 9,054 354 6,219
Dec 2019 190 9,176 227 6,200
Jan 2020 284 9,325 188 6,280
Feb 2020 186 9,371 102 6,289
Mar 2020 327 9,447 324 6,546
Apr 2020 407 9,607 529 6,880
May 2020 834 9,702 649 6,732
Jun 2020 1,043 9,810 822 6,753
Jul 2020 1,659 9,214 1,147 6,613
Aug 2020 1,359 8,859 1,499 7,226
Sep 2020 964 8,371 1,218 7,642
Oct 2020 836 8,652 890 7,949


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.