Monitoring deforestation in the Amazon

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-May-15

Table: Monthly deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

Month DETER DETER TTM SAD SAD TTM
Apr 2008 1,124 156
May 2008 1,096 9,190 294 5,603
Jun 2008 871 9,064 612 5,716
Jul 2008 324 8,536 276 5,031
Aug 2008 757 7,835 102 4,470
Sep 2008 587 8,400 321 3,679
Oct 2008 541 8,457 102 3,257
Nov 2008 355 8,554 61 2,251
Dec 2008 177 8,013 50 2,233
Jan 2009 222 7,342 51 2,202
Feb 2009 143 6,925 62 2,201
Mar 2009 18 6,343 57 2,144
Apr 2009 37 6,214 121 2,109
May 2009 124 5,127 157 1,972
Jun 2009 578 4,155 150 1,510
Jul 2009 836 3,862 532 1,766
Aug 2009 498 4,375 273 1,937
Sep 2009 400 4,116 216 1,832
Oct 2009 176 3,929 194 1,924
Nov 2009 72 3,564 74 1,937
Dec 2009 3,281 16 1,903
Jan 2010 23 3,104 63 1,915
Feb 2010 185 2,905 88 1,941
Mar 2010 52 2,947 76 1,960
Apr 2010 52 2,981 65 1,904
May 2010 110 2,996 96 1,843
Jun 2010 244 2,982 172 1,865
Jul 2010 485 2,647 155 1,488
Aug 2010 265 2,296 210 1,425
Sep 2010 448 2,063 170 1,379
Oct 2010 389 2,111 153 1,338
Nov 2010 121 2,324 65 1,329
Dec 2010 21 2,372 175 1,488
Jan 2011 36 2,394 83 1,508
Feb 2011 1 2,407 63 1,483
Mar 2011 116 2,223 46 1,453
Apr 2011 477 2,287 298 1,686
May 2011 268 2,712 165 1,755
Jun 2011 313 2,871 99 1,682
Jul 2011 225 2,940 93 1,620
Aug 2011 163 2,680 240 1,650
Sep 2011 254 2,578 170 1,650
Oct 2011 386 2,384 102 1,599
Nov 2011 133 2,381 16 1,550
Dec 2011 75 2,393 40 1,415
Jan 2012 22 2,446 33 1,365
Feb 2012 307 2,432 107 1,409
Mar 2012 60 2,737 53 1,416
Apr 2012 233 2,681 71 1,189
May 2012 99 2,437 43 1,067
Jun 2012 108 2,268 35 1,003
Jul 2012 214 2,062 140 1,050
Aug 2012 522 2,051 232 1,042
Sep 2012 283 2,410 431 1,303
Oct 2012 277 2,439 487 1,688
Nov 2012 205 2,331 55 1,727
Dec 2012 131 2,403 82 1,769
Jan 2013 9 2,459 35 1,771
Feb 2013 270 2,447 45 1,709
Mar 2013 28 2,410 80 1,736
Apr 2013 147 2,378 140 1,805
May 2013 465 2,293 84 1,846
Jun 2013 210 2,659 184 1,995
Jul 2013 217 2,762 152 2,007
Aug 2013 289 2,766 185 1,960
Sep 2013 443 2,532 103 1,632
Oct 2013 155 2,692 43 1,188
Nov 2013 108 2,569 37 1,170
Dec 2013 93 2,472 56 1,144
Jan 2014 75 2,434 107 1,216
Feb 2014 119 2,500 11 1,182
Mar 2014 53 2,349 20 1,122
Apr 2014 166 2,374 100 1,082
May 2014 271 2,394 185 1,183
Jun 2014 535 2,200 843 1,842
Jul 2014 729 2,525 355 2,045
Aug 2014 890 3,036 437 2,297
Sep 2014 736 3,638 402 2,596
Oct 2014 298 3,931 244 2,797
Nov 2014 77 4,074 195 2,955
Dec 2014 85 4,043 95 2,994
Jan 2015 129 4,035 289 3,176
Feb 2015 61 4,089 42 3,207
Mar 2015 155 4,031 58 3,245
Apr 2015 334 4,133 137 3,282
May 2015 588 4,301 389 3,486
Jun 2015 855 4,618 494 3,137
Jul 2015 914 4,937 542 3,324
Aug 2015 654 5,122 415 3,302
Sep 2015 504 4,885 229 3,129
Oct 2015 377 4,653 230 3,115
Nov 2015 240 4,732 99 3,019
Dec 2015 89 4,896 175 3,099
Jan 2016 63 4,899 52 2,862
Feb 2016 534 4,832 0 2,820
Mar 2016 123 5,305 213 2,975
Apr 2016 436 5,274 183 3,021
May 2016 784 5,375 474 3,106
Jun 2016 1,431 5,571 972 3,584
Jul 2016 738 6,147 539 3,581
Aug 2016 1,023 5,972 582 3,748
Sep 2016 688 6,160 387 3,906
Oct 2016 741 6,350 202 3,878
Nov 2016 366 6,403 37 3,816
Dec 2016 17 6,147 0 3,641
Jan 2017 58 5,971 42 3,631
Feb 2017 101 5,956 0 3,631
Mar 2017 74 5,721 97 3,515
Apr 2017 125 5,420 96 3,428
May 2017 348 5,238 365 3,319
Jun 2017 589 4,876 537 2,884
Jul 2017 455 4,585 544 2,889
Aug 2017 289 3,852 184 2,491
Sep 2017 393 3,556 241 2,345
Oct 2017 456 3,272 261 2,404
Nov 2017 359 3,265 56 2,423
Dec 2017 289 3,538 184 2,607
Jan 2018 179 3,658 70 2,635
Feb 2018 151 3,708 214 2,849
Mar 2018 358 3,993 287 3,039
Apr 2018 508 4,376 217 3,160
May 2018 538 4,565 634 3,429
Jun 2018 505 4,481 1,169 4,061
Jul 2018 610 4,635 778 4,295
Aug 2018 520 4,865 545 4,656
Sep 2018 723 5,195 444 4,859
Oct 2018 491 5,230 187 4,785
Nov 2018 265 5,136 287 5,016
Dec 2018 66 4,914 246 5,078
Jan 2019 140 4,875 108 5,116
Feb 2019 131 4,855 93 4,995
Mar 2019 242 4,739 67 4,775
Apr 2019 238 4,468 195 4,753
May 2019 702 4,633 797 4,916
Jun 2019 919 5,048 801 4,548
Jul 2019 2,092 6,530 1,287 5,057
Aug 2019 1,695 7,706 886 5,398
Sep 2019 1,443 8,427 802 5,756
Oct 2019 555 8,491 583 6,152
Nov 2019 523 8,749 354 6,219
Dec 2019 187 8,870 227 6,200
Jan 2020 284 9,013 188 6,280
Feb 2020 186 9,068 102 6,289
Mar 2020 327 9,152 324 6,546
Apr 2020 405 9,320


In August 2016, the table data for the DETER columns switches from DETER to DETER-B, Brazil’s new deforestation detection system.

  • Coronavirus puts Brazil’s quilombos at risk; will assistance come?

    - The Boa Vista Quilombo in Oriximiná, Pará state, is like many Brazilian quilombola communities. Quilombolas are Afro-Brazilian runaway slave descendants, and point to centuries of inequality and neglect by the government. Quilombos often lack running water, basic sanitation and health services.- In the 1970s, Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) annexed much of Boa Vista’s land and established the world’s fourth largest bauxite mine, along with a company town, Porto Trombetas, built on the former quilombo property; MRN also polluted local fisheries and provided mostly badly paid menial jobs to residents.- Now, the pandemic is exacerbating fundamental governmental and corporate inequalities, say residents. MRN, for example, asked Boa Vista residents to clean a quarantine facility used by new arrivals. The residents refused. Meanwhile, the mine is fully operational, with planes and ships coming and going regularly.- MRN says it has implemented strong preventative measures against the virus. But residents point out that the company’s hospital has just six intensive care beds; they fear, in keeping with past inequities, these beds would be reserved for MRN employees, leaving infected quilombolas without care.

  • As their land claim stalls, Brazil’s Munduruku face pressure from soybean farms

    - Indigenous Munduruku communities in Brazil’s Pará state have seen their crops die as agribusiness expands in the area, with soybean farmers spraying pesticides less than 10 meters (33 feet) from villages.- The streams used by the Munduruku have also been damaged, if not dried up, and even the artesian wells the communities are digging to survive appear to be contaminated.- Aside from pesticides, soybean farming has also brought fraudulent requests for land appropriation and violence against indigenous people.- The Munduruku have for the past 12 years tried to get their land demarcated as an indigenous reserve, but the process has stalled under the Bolsonaro administration.

  • Kafka in the Amazon: Volunteer forest fire fighter charged with arson still in limbo

    - Alter do Châo, a small resort town within Santarém municipality in Pará state, welcomed some 200,000 tourists last year, causing real estate prices to soar, and putting increasing pressure on the Amazon resort’s surrounding forests.- Following the 2019 Amazon wildfire season, Brazilian police arrested four volunteer firefighters, accusing them of arson in the Alter do Châo Reserve. The firefighters allegedly set the fires to receive money from international environmental groups, according to the authorities. But no evidence has been presented as yet.- The investigation has dragged on for months, with one suspect still under house arrest. However, many locals believe land speculators and/or land thieves are far more likely to be responsible for last year’s blazes.- The fear expressed by many in Alter do Châo, is that lawlessness is becoming sanctioned in Amazonia due to the failure of the Bolsonaro government to prosecute socio-environmental crimes. Meanwhile, the volunteer fire brigade members continue awaiting the slow turning of Brazil’s wheels of justice.

  • Projeto Harpia: Saving the Amazon’s largest raptor for more than 20 years

    - Created in 1997, Projeto Harpia has surveyed 120 harpy eagle nests in Brazil, mostly in the Amazon, but also in the Pantanal and the Atlantic Forest.- Projeto Harpia also carries out environmental education, raising awareness in the surrounding communities and collecting scientific data, and emphasizes the importance of engaging local and indigenous communities for both nest spotting and conservation.- There are an estimated 5,000 harpy eagles in the Amazon and 300 in the Atlantic Forest, with deforestation the main threat to their survival.- Like all predators at the top of the food chain, the species is vital in maintaining the balance of its ecosystem.

  • Indigenous COVID-19 cases top 500, danger mapped in Brazil agricultural hub

    - 537 COVID-19 cases and 102 deaths are being reported by 38 indigenous groups in Brazil. Most of the cases are in the remote Brazilian Amazon, where communities are located far from medical assistance. Experts, citing the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to outside disease, worry the pandemic could result in a many more deaths.- In response to the pandemic, indigenous groups in Mato Grosso state have partnered with an NGO to produce a daily updated map monitoring COVID-19 outbreaks in urban areas near indigenous villages. The website is meant to keep indigenous people informed, and put pressure on national and international groups to respond.- Amid the pandemic, indigenous land rights in Mato Grosso are increasingly threatened by federal and state government policy shifts that critics say would encourage and legitimize land grabbing, illegal logging and mining inside indigenous territories.- Particularly impacted by the policy changes, should they go into effect, are isolated indigenous groups, including the Kawahiva and Piripkura peoples who roam as yet federally unrecognized indigenous reserves near the city of Colniza, Mato Grosso.

  • Amazon fires may be worse in 2020 as deforestation and land grabbing spikes

    - Nearly 800 square kilometers of forest were cut down during the first three months of this year — 51% more than during the same period in 2019. Those who cleared the rainforest will need to burn the downed trees during the upcoming dry season in order to make way for cattle pastures and croplands.- A third of the devastation occurred on public lands, which are the preferred target for land grabbers. Recent firings at IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, and a loosening of regulations for wood exports have paved the way for even more illegal public land thefts this year.- After one of the driest rainy seasons in recent years, the soil in Amazonia is drier and the temperatures higher than normal — perfect conditions for fires to spread easily.- More fires, should they occur in August and September of this year, could be problematic for the hard-pressed public healthcare system, as airborne soot adds to increased hospitalizations for respiratory complications. This scenario is especially worrisome as Amazonia’s health system is in collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • As habitat degradation threatens Amazon species, one region offers hope

    - Two recent studies looked into the impact of human disturbance on ecological diversity in Amazonia habitats. Another study in the Rupununi region of Guyana found how important maintaining connectivity is to maintaining ecosystem health.- The first study investigated how forest fragmentation impacts mixed-species flocks of birds. The research found evidence that forest habitat fragmentation in the Amazon has caused mixed-species bird flocks to severely diminish and even disappear.- A second study evaluated the impact of logging and fire on seed dispersal in tropical forest plots in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. The research team found that Amazon forests which have been heavily logged and burned are populated primarily by tree species with smaller seeds, and smaller fruits.- The remote Rupununi region provides water connectivity between the ancient Guyana Shield and the Amazon basin. A recent study there identified more than 450 fish species within the Rupununi region. The research illustrated the value of conserving connectivity between diverse habitats.

  • Amazon road projects could lead to Belize-size loss of forest, study shows

    - Scientists studying the impact of 75 road projects in five countries in the Amazon Basin have found that they could lead to 2.4 million hectares (5.9 million acres) of deforestation.- Seventeen percent of these projects were found to violate environmental legislation and the rights of indigenous peoples.- The total cost for the projects, which stretch a combined 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) is $27 billion, yet half of them will be financially unfeasible.- The study’s authors cite a lack of reliable technical feasibility studies, solid data and pressure from financiers to minimalize socioenvironmental impacts.

  • Audio: What can we expect from tropical fire season 2020?

    - On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast we look at what’s driving the intense fire seasons we’ve seen around the world in recent years, what we can expect from the 2020 fire season in tropical forest regions like the Amazon and Indonesia, and some solutions to the problem.- Australia’s fire season may have just ended, but most of the world’s tropical forest regions will soon be entering their own. We welcome three guests to the podcast today to examine the trends shaping tropical fire seasons around the world: Rhett Butler, Dan Nepstad, and Aida Greenbury.- Wildfires have made international headlines a lot in the past few years, most recently due to Australia’s devastating bushfires, but the Amazon, Indonesia, and Congo Basin also had severe fire seasons in 2019.- Our guests discuss the drivers and also some solutions, like investing in Brazilian farmers to incentivize fire prevention, and the High Carbon Stock Approach to stemming forest loss.

  • Amazon indigenous leader: Our survival is at stake. You can help (commentary)

    - Beto Marubo, a representative of the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley, warns that indigenous peoples in the Amazon face existential threats from rising deforestation, anti-environment and anti-indigenous policies from the Bolsonaro administration, and the COVID-19 pandemic.- Marubo, whose indigenous name is Wino Këyashëni, is calling upon the outside world to pressure the Bolsonaro administration to protect indigenous peoples’ rights, lands, and livelihoods.- He’s asking for (1) the Brazilian government to evict land invaders from indigenous territories, (2) restrictions on outsiders’ access to indigenous lands, and (3) logistical and medical support.- This article is a commentary and does not necessarily reflect the views of Mongabay.