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-May-13
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.
Banks increased deforestation-linked investments by $8B during Covid-19: report
- A new analysis of financial data by Forests & Finance, a coalition of NGOs, has found that weak policies and continued major investments in forest-risk sectors are driving deforestation in Southeast Asia, Latin America and West and Central Africa.- The group compared the environmental commitments of the world’s 50 top financial institutions against their investments, lending and guarantees to more than 200 companies operating in deforestation-linked industries such as palm oil and beef.- The group found an increase of more than $8 billion of investments in deforestation-linked companies compared to the previous year.- The Forests & Finance database was made publicly searchable last year and includes data going back to 2013.
Meet the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners
- This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, which honors one grassroots activist from each of the six inhabited continents.- The 2021 prize winners are Sharon Lavigne from the United States, Gloria Majiga-Kamoto from Malawi, Thai Van Nguyen from Vietnam, Maida Bilal from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kimiko Hirata from Japan, and Liz Chicaje Churay from Peru.
Illegal miners block Indigenous leaders headed to protests in Brazil’s capital
- Illegal gold miners slashed the tires of a bus and threatened to set it on fire in a bid to block leaders in the Munduruku Indigenous Reserve from traveling to Brazil’s capital to attend planned protests this week, Indigenous groups and authorities say.- Indigenous leaders had to be escorted by police as they tried to reach the capital and take part in protests against invasions of their lands and violence against their people, advocates say.- The attacks come weeks after miners fired shots and set houses ablaze in the Munduruku reserve, fueling worries about more violence against Indigenous people after federal authorities retreated from the area.- Federal prosecutors and Indigenous groups have called for firmer measures against the illegal miners and permanent protection for the Munduruku Indigenous people.
Amazon rainforest destruction is accelerating, shows government data
- Destruction of Earth’s largest rainforest is accelerating ahead of the region’s peak fire and deforestation season, reveals data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE.- According to INPE’s satellite-based deforestation tracking system, DETER, forest clearing in the Brazilian part of the Amazon amounted to 1,391 square kilometers in May. That represents a 67% increase over May 2020 and puts deforestation nearly on pace with last year’s rate, when forest loss in the region reached 11,088 square kilometers, the highest level since 2008.- The figure also represents the highest recorded in any May since at least 2007.- Note: this is an updated version of a story published June 4, 2021. It has been revised using data released today.
What’s the cost of illegal mining in Brazil’s Amazon? A new tool calculates it
- The launch of a gold mining impacts calculator this week — a joint project of the Federal Public Ministry and the Conservation Strategy Fund — marks a big step forward in combating illegal mining in the Brazilian Amazon, experts and government agents say.- The new tool was able to estimate damages of $431 million caused by illegal mining in 2020 on the Yanomami Indigenous Reserve, where local leaders have reported several attacks in the past month by miners, following an influx of mining activities since 2019.- Since 2019, Brazil has exported $11 billion in gold, with Switzerland, Canada and the United Kingdom as the top importers; last year alone, these three countries imported $3.5 billion of the precious metal from Brazil.- Improving traceability is another important step to cracking down on the environmentally devasting illegal gold market, says Sérgio Leitão, an expert in the fight against illegal mining in Brazil.
Slash-and-burn clearing nears Indigenous park as Brazil’s fire season ignites
- Xingu Indigenous Park shields one of the last remaining large tracts of old growth rainforest in Brazil’s “arc of deforestation,” and is inhabited by dozens of Indigenous communities.- The park experienced a jump in deforestation in 2020, quadrupling the amount of primary forest it lost in 2019.- Most of this deforestation was caused by wildfires, which likely spread from slash-and-burn activity on nearby agricultural fields.- Satellite data and imagery show agricultural fields and fires expanding towards the park in 2021 despite a prohibition on dry-season burning and a drought the likes of which haven’t been seen in nearly a century.
Brazil ‘Adopt-a-Park’ program may negatively impact traditional peoples
- Brazil has launched an ambitious “Adopt-a-Park” program, inviting local and transnational companies to provide goods and services and help manage 132 conservation units of all types in the Brazilian Amazon. Should the program be successful, it would be extended to preserves across Brazil.- Private response has been weak so far, with only eight companies, five Brazilian and three transnationals, signing up. That includes French-owned supermarket chain Carrefour, U.S. beverage maker Coca-Cola, and Dutch brewer Heineken. Details as to how the initiative will function have been scant.- The Jair Bolsonaro government says it hopes that during a time of deep federal budget cuts to environmental programs, Adopt-a-Park will add the equivalent of $600 million in goods and services to conservation coffers. But the initiative has unleashed a firestorm of criticism from socioenvironmental NGOs and traditional communities.- They say Adopt-a-Park is a way of greenwashing Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental agenda, that the program is failing to carry out required consultations with traditional peoples — such as rubber tappers and Brazil nut gatherers, who live inside extractive reserves — and that it could further the dismantling of federal agencies.
Study shows it took the Amazon as we know it over 6 million years to form
- An asteroid impact near Mexico 66 million years ago triggered an ecological catastrophe that claimed nearly half of all plant species and took Amazon forests more than 6 million years to recover from.- Colombian researchers analyzed fossilized pollen and leaves and found plant diversity declined by 45% after the impact; when plant diversity finally recovered, open forests of ferns and conifers had been replaced by dense, closed-canopy forests dominated by flowering plants.- The researchers suggested three interlinked explanations for the sudden transition: the extinction of large-bodied dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous reduced forest disturbance; dust from the impact acted as a fertilizer; conifers were more likely to go extinct.- In the time periods studied, Earth’s climate was warmer and CO2 levels were higher, showing that climate alone is not enough to trigger a forest-to-savanna transition, with the pace of warming and deforestation the crucial puzzle pieces that determine whether today’s forests can survive.
World’s richest tin mine pollutes rivers serving Amazon Indigenous villages
- Prosecutors in Brazil have demanded immediate remedial action following a leak of waste from the Pitinga tin mine into rivers that serve Indigenous communities in the Amazonian reserve of Waimiri-Atroari.- Federal authorities and Indigenous expeditions confirmed the leak of tailings waste from six dams managed by Mineração Taboca, the Brazilian subsidiary of Peruvian tin mining giant Minsur, which has affected the water supply for 22 Waimiri-Atroari villages.- Indigenous residents say they fear a catastrophic disaster from the potential failure of Taboca’s main dam; the structure is four times the size of Brazilian miner Vale’s dam in Brumadinho municipality whose collapse in 2019 killed 270 people.- Besides the Pitinga mine outside the reserve, Taboca and a subsidiary have 37 applications pending to mine inside the Waimiri-Atroari Indigenous Territory — an activity currently prohibited by Brazil’s Constitution, but which would be permitted under a bill currently before Congress.
Brazil’s environment minister faces second probe linked to illegal timber
- Brazil’s highest court has authorized an investigation into alleged obstruction of justice by Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, who has admitted to siding with suspected illegal loggers targeted in a police operation.- Following the country’s biggest ever bust of illegal timber in March, Salles traveled to the site in the Amazon and declared on social media accounts that he had personally checked the origin of a sample of the wood and found it was not of illegal origin, despite the police’s evidence to the contrary.- The new investigation into Salles comes two weeks after the Federal Police began a probe into allegations that the minister was involved in exports of illegal timber to the U.S. and Europe.- Salles’s term as environment minister has been marked by skyrocketing deforestation rates, a record-high number of rural land conflicts, the gutting of environmental regulators, and an increase in invasions and attacks on Indigenous lands.