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.
Podcast: What are the tropical forest storylines to watch in 2021?
- Happy new year to all of our faithful Mongabay Newscast listeners! For our first episode of the year, we take stock of how the world’s rainforests fared in 2020 and look ahead to the major stories to watch in 2021.- We’re joined by Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett Butler, who discusses the impacts of the Covid pandemic on tropical forest conservation efforts, the most important issues likely to impact rainforests in 2021, and why he remains hopeful despite setbacks in recent years.- We also speak with Joe Eisen, executive director of Rainforest Foundation UK, who helps us dig deeper into the major issues and events that will affect Africa’s rainforests in the coming year.
Patches of Amazon untouched by humans still feel impact of climate change
- Researchers looking at the abundance of insect-eating birds in a pristine patch of forest deep in the Brazilian Amazon have seen populations of dozens of species decline over the past 35 years.- The remoteness of the site and the still-intact tree cover rule out direct human activity as a factor for the population declines, with researchers attributing the phenomenon to the warmer and more intense droughts caused by climate change, which in turn puts stress on the birds and their food sources.- The finding calls into question the idea that an area protected from human activity is sufficient to guarantee the conservation of its biodiversity.- A similar phenomenon has been observed in the Caatinga shrubland ecosystem of northeastern Brazil, where rising temperatures, severe droughts, and irregular rainfall may lead to the extinction of birds and mammals over the next 60 years, even inside national parks.
California-sized area of forest lost in just 14 years
- An area of forest roughly the size of California was cleared across the tropics and subtropics between 2004 and 2017 largely for commercial agriculture, finds a new assessment published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).- The report looks at the state of forests and causes of deforestation in 24 “active deforestation fronts”, which account for over half of all tropical and subtropical deforestation that occurred over the 14-year period. These include nine forest areas in Latin America, eight in Africa, and seven in Asia and Oceania.- Using five satellite-based datasets, the report finds 43 million hectares (166,000 square miles) of deforestation during the period. Nearly two-thirds of that loss occurred in Latin America.- The report lays out a series of actions to address deforestation, include policy measures by governments and companies. These range from commodity sourcing policies to recognizing Indigenous and local communities’ land rights.
Lack of protection leaves Spain-size swath of Brazilian Amazon up for grabs
- Fifty million hectares (124 million acres) of undesignated forest in the Brazilian Amazon, an area the size of Spain, is under growing threat of illegal occupation and deforestation facilitated by a controversial government land registry.- A Greenpeace Brazil study shows 62% of undesignated forest along a stretch of the BR-163 Highway has been illegally invaded and then registered by the occupiers with the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR).- CAR, a self-declaratory system, was created in 2012 to help identify those responsible for rural plots, however, combined with the current weakening of environmental agencies and of field actions against deforestation, it’s helping legitimize land grabbing.- The problem of land grabbing in the Amazon, often by speculators looking to sell to cattle ranchers and crop growers, is not new, but the situation has intensified under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro. The Greenpeace researchers say there’s little prospect of a crackdown on land grabbing under the present political scenario.
We’re approaching critical climate tipping points: Q&A with Tim Lenton
- Over the past twenty years the concept of “tipping points” has become more familiar to the public. Tipping points are critical thresholds at which small changes can lead to dramatic shifts in the state of the entire system.- Awareness of climate tipping points has grown in policy circles in recent years in no small part thanks to the work of climate scientist Tim Lenton, who serves as the director of the Global Systems Institute at Britain’s University of Exeter.- Lenton says the the rate at which we appear to be approaching several tipping points is now ringing alarm bells, but “most of our current generation of politicians are just not up to this leadership task”.- The pandemic however may have caused a shock to the system that could trigger what he calls “positive social tipping points” that “can accelerate the transformative change we need” provided we’re able to empower the right leaders.
Rainforests: 11 things to watch in 2021
- 2020 was a rough year for tropical rainforest conservation efforts. So what’s in store for 2021?- Mongabay Founder Rhett A. Butler reviews some of 11 key things to watch in the world of rainforests in 2021.- These include: the post COVID recovery; the transition of power in the U.S.; deforestation in Indonesia; deforestation in Brazil; the effects of the La Niña climate pattern; ongoing destabilization of tropical forests; government to government carbon deals; data that will allow better assessment of the impact of COVID on tropical forests; companies incorporating forest-risk into decision-making; ongoing violence against environmental defenders; and whether international policy meetings can get back on track.
How the pandemic impacted rainforests in 2020: a year in review
- 2020 was supposed to be a make-or-break year for tropical forests. It was the year when global leaders were scheduled to come together to assess the past decade’s progress and set the climate and biodiversity agendas for the next decade. These included emissions reductions targets, government procurement policies and corporate zero-deforestation commitments, and goals to set aside protected areas and restore degraded lands.- COVID-19 upended everything: Nowhere — not even tropical rainforests — escaped the effects of the global pandemic. Conservation was particularly hard in tropical countries.- 2019’s worst trends for forests mostly continued through the pandemic including widespread forest fires, rising commodity prices, increasing repression and violence against environmental defenders, and new laws and policies in Brazil and Indonesia that undermine forest conservation.- We don’t yet have numbers on the degree to which the pandemic affected deforestation, because it generally takes several months to process that data. That being said, there are reasons to suspect that 2020’s forest loss will again be substantial.
Nature drone photos: 2020 highlights (Insider)
- Mongabay implemented a moratorium on reporting-related travel in mid-March due to the pandemic.- Accordingly, the opportunities to take photos this year were limited, mostly to a pre-pandemic trip to the Amazon and pictures captured locally in California.- This set includes 35 of Mongabay Founder Rhett A. Butler’s drone photos from the year.- This post is insider content, which is available to paying subscribers. All insider content is temporarily available to everyone.
Podcast: New innovations to clean up the impacts of mining
- We bring you two stories that illustrate some of the innovative new ways conservationists are attempting to address the impacts of mining on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast.- Dr. Manuela Callari, a Mongabay contributing writer who recently wrote about Australia’s tens of thousands of abandoned and shuttered mines, discusses novel solutions to restoring native habitat destroyed by mining, and how the industry is finally beginning to work with local and aboriginal communities in creating mine closure plans.- And Bjorn Bergman, an analyst with the NGO SkyTruth, discusses Project Inambari, an open mapping platform that utilizes satellite radar imagery to detect the impacts of small-scale, illegal mining in the Amazon rainforest.- Project Inambari was named one of the winners of the Artisanal Mining Challenge, a global competition that recently awarded $750,000 in prizes for innovative solutions.
Traditional and Indigenous peoples ‘denounce’ planned Amazon railway
- The Ferrovia Paraense (FEPASA) railway if fully completed would run 1,312 kilometers (815 miles) from Santana do Araguaia in southern Pará, along the state’s eastern border, to the port city of Barcarena on the Amazon River. It could carry 80 million tons of mining ores and agribusiness commodities annually.- In 2019, Pará state signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Communication Construction Company for a R$7 billion (US$1.4 billion) investment to fund the building of 492 kilometers (305 miles) of the railway, from Marabá to Barcarena. Construction is currently expected to start in 2021.- But that plan could be delayed by resistance from Indigenous and traditional communities who say they’ve yet to be consulted on the project, as required by international law. FEPASA and Ferrogrão (Grainrail) will integrate Pará into Brazil’s vast rail network, greatly aiding export of Amazon commodities to China.- A letter from the Amazon communities to Pará’s government accused it and its allies of “forcing on us a development model that does not represent us, that is imposing railways,… expelling people from their lands, ending our food security, destroying our people, destroying our cultures,… and killing our forests.”