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.
Facebook enabling Amazon land grabbing, deforestation: Investigation
- BBC Brasil, in a new TV documentary, penetrated deep within criminal networks illegally selling and deforesting conserved lands — even within an Indigenous reserve. In a new twist, some land grabbers are posting the plots they’re selling on Facebook, a practice likely to bring international attention and outrage.- The sellers may have moved to utilizing Facebook ads because the lawbreakers say they have virtually no fear of prosecution from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Since 2019, his administration has largely gutted and defunded the nation’s environmental regulatory, protection and enforcement agencies.- When contacted by the BBC about allowing the ads to be placed on its platform, Facebook said that it was “ready to work with the local authorities” to investigate the alleged crimes but that it would not be taking independent action on its own to halt the land trade. While some ads were pulled, others remain on Facebook.
Amazon ‘Tribes on the Edge’: Q&A with documentary filmmaker Céline Cousteau
- Céline Cousteau, granddaughter of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, spent three years filming the lives of the inhabitants of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory in the Brazilian Amazon.- The filming took place before the COVID-19 pandemic and before Jair Bolsonaro became president, but the issues it highlights are as relevant as ever, Cousteau says, from the state’s neglect of Indigenous health, to the exploitative policies pushed by successive governments.- “Indigenous peoples and the Javari are the protectors of an ecosystem on which we depend,” she says. “Supporting their survival helps us survive forever.”- One of the subjects of the film, Indigenous leader Beto Marubo, says there are no immediate solutions: “This problem didn’t happen overnight, and you by yourself will not solve it overnight. You need to be here for the long run.”
An economic case for competing in the XPRIZE Rainforest contest (commentary)
- In 2019, XPRIZE Rainforest opened its doors and challenged the world to develop new biodiversity assessment technologies by offering a $10 million prize for the best one.- In this commentary, Jonah Wittkamper, President of the Global Governance Philanthropy Network and co-founder of NEXUS, makes an economic argument for participating in the contest.- Wittkamper says a great deal of value could be unlocked with the ability to rapidly assess rainforest biodiversity.- This post is a commentary and does not necessarily reflect the views of Mongabay.
As Amazon forest-to-savanna tipping point looms, solutions remain elusive
- Leading scientists project that if an additional 3-8% of rainforest cover is lost in the Amazon, it may overshoot a forest-to-degraded-savanna tipping point. That shift could mean mega-drought, forest death, and release of great amounts of stored carbon to the atmosphere from southern, eastern and central Amazonia.- Despite this warning, Brazilian Amazon deforestation hit an 11-year high in 2020. Government clampdowns on environmental crime greatly decreased deforestation in the past, but Brazil is now facing a political backlash led by President Jair Bolsonaro, resulting in agribusiness and mining expansion and deforestation.- Market efforts to create incentives have been ineffective. A public-private plan to cut deforestation led by Mato Grosso state has not met its environmental targets, even as agricultural lands increased. Amazonas, Acre and Rondônia — Bolsonaro-aligned states — are pushing for the creation of a new agriculture frontier.- Indigenous communities, because they’re the best land stewards, should be at the forefront of public policy to conserve the Amazon, say experts, but instead they face poverty and marginalization by the institutions responsible for securing their land rights. International response to the Amazon crisis has also lagged.
Gold and diamonds fail to shine as drivers of Amazon development
- Gold and diamond mining in the Brazilian Amazon don’t contribute to sustained improvements in the economy, health and education, among other development parameters, a new study shows.- The study compared these parameters in 73 Amazonian municipalities where mining takes place, against others in the region without mining.- It found that any improvements were brief, lasting no more than five years, while the adverse environmental impacts lingered for up to seven years.- The researchers, from the Instituto Escolhas, plan to hone their methodology by including other parameters, such as tax incentives for miners, which they predict will show that the industry is also a drain on public coffers.
Big dream: NGO leads in creating 1,615-mile Amazon-Cerrado river greenbelt
- The Black Jaguar Foundation plans to reforest 1 million hectares (2.4 million acres) along Brazil’s Araguaia and Tocantins rivers in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes. The 2,600 kilometer (1,615 mile) long natural corridor will require the planting of around 1.7 billion trees. Tens-of-thousands have already been planted.- This natural corridor will be established on private lands, and it will have dual ecological and economic goals, resulting in both land conservation and sustainable agroforestry production. It would cross six Brazilian states (Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Tocantins, Pará and Maranhão).- BJF is well funded and well organized, so the greatest barriers to accomplishing the NGO’s goals are many initially resistant rural property owners who need to be sold on the economic benefits of the green corridor. 24,000 privately owned lots are included in the planned green corridor.- “Brazil has a huge liability in degraded areas, and the BJF [green corridor] initiative is a huge outdoor laboratory for ecosystem restoration in the center of the country, in the agricultural frontier region,” said one researcher.
Zero convictions as impunity blocks justice for victims of Brazil’s rural violence
- Throughout 2019, the first year of the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, 31 people were killed in a wave of rural violence that activists say was driven by the Brazilian government’s rhetoric.- Since then, there have been no convictions in any of the cases, and the police are still investigating 19 of the murders; the sole closed case was ruled a drowning, despite evidence of violence against the Indigenous victim.- Those killed in 2019 were mostly men who lived in Brazil’s Amazonian states, were affiliated with landless workers’ or Indigenous people’s movements, and who died defending their territories.- “Killers feel they have a license to kill,” says former environment minister Marina Silva. “They listen to the government’s discourse against Indigenous people, environmentalists, extractivist populations, and they feel they’re covered while the victims are helpless and unprotected.”
Agroforestry-grown coffee gives Amazon farmers a sustainable alternative
- Located in the southern part of Brazil’s Amazonas state, the municipality of Apuí has been producing the Amazon’s first agroecological coffee since 2012.- The municipality has one of the highest rates of fire outbreaks in the region, and investing in social development is one way to combat land grabbing and deforestation for cattle pastures.- Funded by the private sector, the agroforestry coffee project aims to integrate 200 family farms over the next three years.- Studies show that agroforestry systems diminish the impacts of climate change on coffee production, improve yields, and allow farmers to cultivate additional plants for extra income.
As the Amazon unravels into savanna, its wildlife will also suffer
- The transformation of the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests into savanna-like environments will change the makeup of both the flora and the fauna of these biomes.- A study by Brazilian researchers evaluated the impacts of climate change and deforestation on more than 300 mammal species under various scenarios of savannization.- Species like primates, which depend on a dense canopy of trees to survive, could lose up to 50% of their range by the end of the 21st century.- Meanwhile, species from the Cerrado scrubland, such as the maned wolf and the giant anteater, would be able to move into degraded areas of the Amazon even as their own native range is cleared by human activity.
Brazil’s BR-319: Politicians capitalize on the Manaus oxygen crisis to promote a disastrous highway (Commentary)
- Brazil’s proposed reconstruction of the formerly abandoned BR-319 highway is notorious for its potential impact on Amazonian deforestation and indigenous peoples.- The highway would connect Manaus, in the center of the Amazon, to the “arc of deforestation” in the southern part of the region, opening vast areas of forest to invasion.- The current oxygen crisis in Manaus has been a windfall for politicians promoting the highway project, using the false argument that BR-319 is needed to supply oxygen to the city.- This text is translated and expanded from the first author’s column on the Amazônia Real website. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.