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-Aug-8
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.
Rieli Franciscato died protecting isolated indigenous peoples in the Amazon (commentary)
- Rieli Franciscato of the Brazilian government’s Indigenous affairs agency FUNAI was killed last week on the edge of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous territory in Rondonia.- Franciscato, 56, was a sertanista, a “field person” who works in the most remote parts of the Brazilian Amazon. Franciscato specifically worked to protect the rights and territory of Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation in the Amazon rainforest. These peoples are sometimes referred to as “uncontacted tribes” in the press.- In this commentary, Enrique Ortiz, Senior Program Director at the Andes Amazon Fund, writes that Franciscato “died in the hands of those he loved” and notes his death was probably at least part to blame on outsiders who have been invading Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau lands and threatening the tribe. “One can imagine that the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau can see the advances into their territory as a threat to their survival,” he writes.- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Game changer: NASA data tool could revolutionize Amazon fire analysis
- The Amazon has already seen more forest fires this year than in all of 2019, according to satellite data made available in August 2020 by a new NASA fire analysis tool.- While there are several good fire monitoring satellite systems currently at work above the Amazon, NASA’s new automated system provides near real time monitoring which could allow firefighting teams on the ground to pinpoint fires in remote areas and to take action to put fires out before they spread.- The new system also differentiates between fires in newly deforested areas, understory forest fires, grassland fires and those set by smallholders to annually clear fields. This differentiation allows authorities to zero in on large scale criminal arson committed by land grabbers, while also preventing the criminalization of subsistence farmers.- New information provided by the innovative NASA monitoring tool can count fire carbon emissions and the location and size of burnt areas, all of which could further research on global climate change, mitigation, and biodiversity impacts.
500 years of species loss: Humans drive defaunation across Neotropics
- A new study indicates that human activities, such as overhunting, habitat loss, and fires, have contributed to a more than 56% decline in species in mammal assemblages in the American tropics.- The study drew on animal inventories at more than 1,000 Neotropical study sites, from studies published in the past 30 to 40 years, but with data going back to the time of European colonization of the American tropics.- The Amazon and Pantanal wetland regions are considered to be relatively “faunally intact,” according to the study, but the current fires in these regions would be adversely affecting wildlife and their habitats.- The researchers say they hope their findings can inform effective conservation policies, such as better management and policing of existing protected areas, and efforts to stop illegal hunting, deforestation and fires.
Rise in Amazon deforestation slows in August, but fires surge
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was more than 20 percent lower for the second straight month according to data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE. But forest loss in the world’s largest rainforest remains well above the average of the past decade.- INPE’s analysis of satellite data indicates that 1,359 square kilometers of forest — an area 23 times the size of Manhattan — were cleared last month, a 20.7% drop from August 2019. That follows a 26.7% drop in July.- However INPE’s deforestation data excludes forest loss from fires. More than 1,000 major fires have been registered in the region since late May. Fires in the Amazon have accelerated rapidly in recent weeks, rising to 53 major fires per day in September, up from 18 in August and 2 in July.- Despite the relative decline during the past two months, deforestation detected by INPE’s short-term alert system has amounted to 8,850 square kilometers over the past year, 10% higher than a year ago when Amazon deforestation hit the highest level since 2008.
Amazon meatpacking plants, a COVID-19 hotspot, may be ground zero for next pandemic
- The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that slaughterhouses are among the outbreak hotspots for the disease because of the low temperatures and crowded production lines.- But slaughterhouses are also ideal locations for the emergence of new viruses due to the contact between humans and the blood and entrails of cattle.- Nearly a third of cases where diseases spread from animals to human beings occurred because their natural environments were invaded and destroyed, which puts Brazil’s beef industry, centered in the Amazon, at particularly high risk.- Yet despite the economic fallout from the pandemic, the financial market keeps ignoring this risk and supporting the beef companies most exposed to deforestation in the Amazon.
Latin America has twice the plant life of Africa, SE Asia
- Latin America has more than twice as many plant species as tropical Africa and Southeast Asia and accounts for about a third of global biological diversity, concludes a new study published today in the journal Science Advances.- Using botanical databases, researchers led Missouri Botanical Garden President Emeritus Peter Raven by found Latin America has 118,308 known species of vascular plants, the Afrotropical region has 56,451, and Southeast Asia has about 50,000.- Latin America and the Afrotropical region are roughly equivalent in size, meaning that the Americas south of the Mexico-U.S. border have about twice the richness of species on a per-unit basis. But Southeast Asia, which is only a quarter the size of the other two regions, takes the biodiversity crown in terms of the density of species.- The authors say that their research will be helpful in prioritizing conservation efforts, but that future data collection will be increasingly challenged by rapid habitat loss.
Why the health of the Amazon River matters to us all: An interview with Michael Goulding
- Like the rainforest which takes its name, the Amazon is the largest and most biodiverse river on the planet. The river and its tributaries are a critical thoroughfare for an area the size of the continental United States and function as a key source of food and livelihoods for millions of people. Yet despite its vastness and importance, the mighty Amazon is looking increasingly vulnerable due to human activities.- Few people understand more about the Amazon’s ecology and the wider role it plays across the South American continent than Michael Goulding, an aquatic ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who has worked in the region since the 1970s studying issues ranging from the impact of hydroelectric dams to the epic migration of goliath catfishes. Goulding has written and co-authored some of the most definitive books and papers on the river, its resident species, and its ecological function.- In recognition of his lifetime of advancing conservation efforts in the Amazon, the Field Museum today honored Goulding with the Parker/Gentry Award. The Award — named after ornithologist Theodore A. Parker III and botanist Alwyn Gentry who were killed in a plane crash during an aerial survey of an Ecuadorian cloud forest in 1993 — is given each year to “an outstanding individual, team or organization in the field of conservation biology whose efforts have had a significant impact on preserving the world’s natural heritage and whose actions and approach can serve as a model to others.”- In a September 2020 interview ahead of the prize ceremony, Goulding spoke with Mongabay about his research and the current state of the Amazon.
Mercury from gold mining contaminates Amazon communities’ staple fish
- The four species of fish most commonly consumed by Indigenous and riverine people in the Brazilian state of Amapá contain the highest concentrations of mercury.- In some species, researchers found levels of mercury four times in excess of World Health Organization recommendations.- The mercury comes from gold-mining activity, where it’s used to separate gold from ore before being burned off and washed into the rivers.- The health impacts of mercury contamination are well-documented, and include damage to the central nervous system, potentially resulting in learning disabilities for children and tremors and difficulty walking for adults.
$154b in capital has gone to 300 forest-risk companies since the Paris Agreement
- A database of global capital flows into forest-risk companies has been published by Forest and Finance, a joint project of six research and environmental advocacy groups.- More than 50,000 financial deals were analyzed, showing that at least $153.9 billion in loans and investment were provided to 300 companies in Southeast Asia, Brazil, and West and Central Africa since 2016.- Of the 15 banks with the largest overall loan portfolios in forest-risk industries, eight are signatories to the U.N.’s Principles for Responsible Banking, which calls for a halt to deforestation.
Survival of Indigenous communities at risk as Amazon fire season advances
- The number of major Amazon fires this year has more than doubled since August 13, with most of those fires being illegal. 674 major fires were detected between May 28 and September 2, with a sharp increase inside Indigenous territories in the last two weeks, raising concerns among Indigenous leaders.- Indigenous groups are being left to fight the fires on their own, without support from government institutions. IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency has been largely stripped of funds and lacks adequate equipment to fight the blazes, while the Army, sent to the Amazon in May, is reportedly failing to suppress most fires.- Combined with COVID-19, smoke from fires poses a serious threat to Indigenous health. Native peoples have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and have weaker immune systems for respiratory disease. A recent study shows that Indigenous hospitalizations for respiratory disease coincide with deforestation rates year-by-year.- Isolated Indigenous groups are especially under threat as fires put their food sources at risk. Experts say that isolated and uncontacted groups, to fend off hunger, are sighted more often roaming during Amazon fires, potentially risking exposure to Western diseases.