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: 2021-Jul-9
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.
New index measuring rainforest vulnerability to sound alarm on tipping points
- The new Tropical Forest Vulnerability Index (TFVI) will use satellite data to assess the impact of growing threats such as land clearance and rising temperatures on forests.- Backed by the National Geographic Society and Swiss watchmaker Rolex, TFVI aims to identify forests most at risk, to be prioritized for conservation efforts.- Researchers combined 40 years of satellite measurements and forest observations covering tropical forests worldwide to come up with the standardized monitoring system.- In recent years, multiple stressors have pushed forests to a tipping point, causing them to gradually lose their ecological functions, including their capacity to store carbon and recycle water, the study says.
‘Stampede’ of legislation threatens accelerated destruction of the Amazon
- A series of bills being deliberated in Brazil threatens to legalize illegally occupied land, change demarcation rules for Indigenous reserves and open them up to mining, and ease concessions inside public forests.- One of the bills targets the Amazonian state of Acre, proposing a reduction of the important Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve and a downgrade in the protected status of Serra do Divisor National Park.- In another Amazonian state, Rondônia, a state bill was passed this year that significantly shrank the Jaci-Paraná Extractive Reserve and the Guajará-Mirim State Park, setting a worrying precedent, activists say.- They warn this wave of legislation is part of the current administration’s bid to “run the cattle” through environmental protections for the benefit of commercial sectors such as agribusiness and mining.
Lessons from the 2021 Amazon flood (commentary)
- In June 2021, the annual flood season in the western and central Amazon reached record levels, and dramatic scenes of inundated homes, crops and city streets captured attention beyond Amazonia. This event provides lessons that must be learned.- The high flood waters are explained by climatological forces that are expected to strengthen with projected global warming. Damaging floods represent just one of the predicted impacts in Amazônia under a warming climate.- The administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro must change its current denialist positions on global warming and its policies that encourage deforestation. The Amazon forest must be maintained for many reasons in addition to its role in avoiding climate change.- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Amazon and Cerrado deforestation, warming spark record drought in urban Brazil
- Southern and central Brazil are in the midst of the worst drought in nearly 100 years, with agribusiness exports of coffee and sugar, and the production of hydroelectric power, at grave risk.- According to researchers, the drought, now in its second year, likely has two main causes: climate change, which tends to make continental interiors both hotter and drier, and the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and Cerrado savanna biomes.- Deforestation has caused the loss of almost half of the Cerrado’s native vegetation, which helps hold vast amounts of water underground, maintaining aquifers that supply the nation’s rivers with water. In the Amazon, rainforest loss is preventing billions of tons of water vapor from reaching the atmosphere.- President Jair Bolsonaro acknowledges neither climate change nor deforestation as sources of the drought, but attributes it instead to the country and himself being “unlucky.” The administration’s drought response so far is to reactivate fossil-fuel power plants, which pollute heavily and are costly to operate.
Planned Brazil-Peru highway threatens one of Earth’s most biodiverse places
- Serra do Divisor National Park on Brazil’s border with Peru is home to numerous endemic animals and more than a thousand plant species, but faces a double threat from a planned highway and a bid to downgrade its protected status.- The downgrade from national park to “environmental protection area” would paradoxically open up this Andean-Amazon transition region to deforestation, cattle ranching, and mining — activities that are currently prohibited in the park.- The highway project, meant to give Acre another land route to the Pacific via Peru, has been embraced by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, which has already taken the first steps toward its construction.- Indigenous and river community leaders say they have not been consulted about the highway, as required by law, and have not been told about the proposed downgrade of the park, both of which they warn will have negative socioenvironmental impacts.
As soy frenzy grips Brazil, deforestation closes in on Indigenous lands
- A large swath of rainforest has been cleared and was burned on the edge of the Wawi Indigenous Territory in the Brazilian Amazon.- The fire is one of many being set to clear land for soy cultivation, much of it legally mandated, as demand for the crop sees growers push deeper into the rainforest and even into Indigenous and protected areas.- Enforcement against forest destruction has been undermined at the federal level, thanks to budget cuts and loosened restrictions by the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro.- The burning threatens to compound health problems in Indigenous communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while the use of agrochemicals on the soy plantations poses longer-term hazards.
Protected areas keep adjacent lands safe, but face losing their own protection
- Safeguarding nature in one area can displace harmful activities, such as illegal logging or mining, into another, a phenomenon known as leakage or spillover; but how big is the problem?- The first systematic review of studies examining the effects of protected areas around the globe on their surrounding areas found that less than 12% showed evidence of leakage or spillover, while the majority (54%) reduced deforestation in surrounding areas.- Another study found that protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon overwhelmingly blocked deforestation in the surrounding forest, again suggesting that protected areas inhibit deforestation both within and outside of their boundaries.- Experts say environmental and regulatory rollbacks that loosen restrictions on land use, shrink boundaries, or altogether eliminate protections pose a much greater threat to the Amazon than leakage, and efforts should focus on keeping protected areas permanent and improving management and enforcement of regulations.
Hotter and drier: Deforestation and wildfires take a toll on the Amazon
- Drought and high temperatures amplify the destructive effects of deforestation and wildfires.- Across the Amazon Basin, tree species adapted to drier conditions are becoming more prevalent, and in the Central Amazon, savannas have replaced floodplain forests in just a few decades.- While deforestation remains a main concern, the impacts of forest degradation are becoming increasingly important.
Brazil government faces heat over plan that could underreport forest fires
- The Brazilian government faces a new controversy over how it monitors, and ultimately responds to, forest fires, after rolling out a new centralized information system.- The National Meteorology System (SNM) will collate date from the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE), the National Institute of Meteorology (INMET) and the Managing and Operational Center of the System to Protect the Amazon (Censipam).- But the government has sent out mixed messages about how the system will work, raising concerns among scientists and environmentalists that the comprehensive and reliable data sets from INPE will be quashed in favor of underreported deforestation and fire information from INMET.- The government has sought to allay those fears, saying INPE’s data stream will be maintained, but critics say this isn’t the first time the Bolsonaro administration has tried to undermine INPE for exposing the rising trend in deforestation and fires under the administration.
Brazil prosecutors seek ban on all gold mining in hard-hit Amazonian region
- Gold mining activities may be suspended in the southwest of Pará state, in the Brazilian Amazon, if authorities fail to implement measures to increase control and traceability over the country’s gold mining industry.- That’s the main request of a lawsuit filed this week by the Federal Public Ministry based on a new study pointing to the municipalities of southwest Pará as being responsible for 85% of cases of gold laundering in Brazil in 2019 and 2020.- The study, by researchers from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), also concluded that almost 30% of the 174 metric tons of gold sold in Brazil in the last two years was associated with some kind of irregularity, amounting to 9.1 billion reais ($1.8 billion) of potentially illegal gold — a value more than three times the Ministry of Environment’s 2020 budget.- Experts say Brazilian law leaves the door open to gold laundering, by permitting miners to self-declare the origin of their gold and not requiring any verification; the process remains manual, with no electronic invoices to control the gold trade in the country.