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-Nov-22

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 1,025 5,974 582 3,748
Sep 2016 691 6,164 387 3,906
Oct 2016 750 6,364 202 3,878
Nov 2016 367 6,418 37 3,816
Dec 2016 17 6,162 0 3,641
Jan 2017 58 5,986 42 3,631
Feb 2017 101 5,971 0 3,631
Mar 2017 74 5,737 97 3,515
Apr 2017 127 5,437 96 3,428
May 2017 363 5,270 365 3,319
Jun 2017 609 4,928 537 2,884
Jul 2017 458 4,639 544 2,889
Aug 2017 278 3,892 184 2,491
Sep 2017 403 3,603 241 2,345
Oct 2017 440 3,293 261 2,404
Nov 2017 354 3,280 56 2,423
Dec 2017 288 3,551 184 2,607
Jan 2018 183 3,676 70 2,635
Feb 2018 152 3,726 214 2,849
Mar 2018 357 4,008 287 3,039
Apr 2018 490 4,371 217 3,160
May 2018 550 4,557 634 3,429
Jun 2018 488 4,437 1,169 4,061
Jul 2018 596 4,576 778 4,295
Aug 2018 530 4,828 545 4,656
Sep 2018 746 5,172 444 4,859
Oct 2018 526 5,258 187 4,785
Nov 2018 277 5,181 287 5,016
Dec 2018 67 4,961 246 5,078
Jan 2019 136 4,914 108 5,116
Feb 2019 139 4,902 93 4,995
Mar 2019 251 4,796 67 4,775
Apr 2019 247 4,554 195 4,753
May 2019 739 4,743 797 4,916
Jun 2019 935 5,190 801 4,548
Jul 2019 2,255 6,849 1,287 5,057
Aug 2019 1,713 8,032 886 5,398
Sep 2019 1,453 8,739 802 5,756
Oct 2019 555 8,768 583 6,152
Nov 2019 563 9,054 354 6,219
Dec 2019 190 9,176 227 6,200
Jan 2020 284 9,325 188 6,280
Feb 2020 186 9,371 102 6,289
Mar 2020 327 9,447 324 6,546
Apr 2020 407 9,607 529 6,880
May 2020 834 9,702 649 6,732
Jun 2020 1,043 9,810 822 6,753
Jul 2020 1,659 9,214 1,147 6,613
Aug 2020 1,359 8,859 1,499 7,226
Sep 2020 964 8,371 1,218 7,642
Oct 2020 836 8,652 890 7,949


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

  • Amazon deforestation jumps sharply in April

    - Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged during the month of April, ending a streak of three consecutive months where forest clearing had been lower than the prior year.- The rise in deforestation came despite a high-profile pledge from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to rein in deforestation in Earth’s largest rainforest.- According to preliminary deforestation alert data released Friday by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE, deforestation in the Brazilian portion of the Amazon amounted to 581 square kilometers in April, a 43% increase over April 2020- However, by INPE’s count, deforestation is still pacing behind last year’s rate, though that conclusion is contradicted by Imazon, a group that independently monitors forest clearing in the region.

  • Karipuna people sue Brazil government for alleged complicity in land grabs

    - Leaders of the Karipuna Indigenous group in Brazil are suing the government for what they say is complicity in the continued invasion and theft of their land.- Findings by Greenpeace and the Catholic Church-affiliated Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) show 31 land claims overlapping onto the Karipuna Indigenous Reserve, while 7% of the area has already been deforested or destroyed.- The Karipuna Indigenous, who rebuilt their population to around 60 in the last few decades from just eight members who survived mass deaths by disease that followed their forced contact with the outside world in the 1970s, are seeking damages of $8.2 million, the right to permanent protection, and the cancellation of all outsider land claims to their territory.- Land grabbing has been fueled by the political rhetoric and action of President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies, who are seeking to drastically reduce protected areas in the Amazon and weaken environmental protections, activists and experts say.

  • Deforestation-free beef stymied by Brazil’s unequal supply chain

    - A decade after signing agreements to ban deforestation caused by the beef industry, cattle ranching continues to be the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.- A study reveals disparities between ranchers and meatpackers that make it difficult for the industry to comply with the agreements and that allow deforestation to persist.- Only 100 out of 160 meatpacking plants in the study area, in southeast Pará state, have signed zero-deforestation agreements; of these, only 56 have been audited for their compliance.- Among ranches, bigger ones have the financial resources and access to technology to boost productivity without clearing forest for new pasture, while smaller ones tend not even to be formally registered, depriving them of incentives to aim for compliance.

  • Brazil’s Bolsonaro vowed to work with Indigenous people. Now he’s investigating them

    - At least two top Indigenous leaders in Brazil, Sônia Guajajara and Almir Suruí, were recently summoned for questioning by the federal police over allegations of slander against the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.- Both probes were prompted by complaints filed by Funai, the federal agency for Indigenous affairs, just a week after Bolsonaro pledged at a global leaders’ climate summit to work together with Indigenous peoples to tackle deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.- The NGO Human Rights Watch said it’s “deeply concerned” about the government’s moves and called any retaliation against Indigenous peoples a “flagrant abuse of power,” while APIB, Brazil’s main Indigenous association, called the government’s approach a “clear attempt to curtail freedom of expression.”- Under Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil has reached its highest level since 2008, invasions of indigenous territories increased 135% in 2019, and the persecution of government critics under a draconian national security law has skyrocketed.

  • ‘Zero illegal deforestation’ – One more Bolsonaro distortion (commentary)

    - At U.S. President Joe Biden’s virtual climate summit on Earth Day, 22 April, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro promised “zero illegal deforestation by 2030.”- “Zero illegal deforestation” can be achieved in two ways: by stopping deforestation, and by legalizing the deforestation that is taking place. The second path is in full swing.- A series of laws facilitating “land grabbing” (which in Brazil means large-scale illegal appropriation of government land) is being fast-tracked in the National Congress with support from Bolsonaro.- Once grabbed land is legalized, the deforestation on it can be “amnestied” and subsequent deforestation legally permitted. The end result is more deforestation. All deforestation, legal or not, causes climate change. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

  • Criticizing Brazil over Amazon conservation will likely backfire (commentary)

    - Although Brazilians share a concern for the Amazon, and even hosted the groundbreaking Earth Summit in 1992, polls show less consensus on who is responsible for Amazon deforestation, who is best addressing this problem, or the role of foreign actors.- When activists or leaders from abroad single out Brazil and its president as bad actors on the environment, they risk potential backlash from Brazilians who often view such attacks as a double standard.- The heavy-handed tone that the Biden Administration has adopted may create unfortunate roadblocks to the progress which is possible, argue two authors from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and the University of São Paulo.- This article is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.

  • In Project Amazônia 2.0, communities and technology team up for nature

    - Since 2017, Project Amazônia 2.0 has used the latest developments in information technology to strengthen monitoring and conservation of Indigenous territories and traditional communities in six countries in the Amazon region.- Community members work as monitors to report on any violations or changes in the environment, and the reports and data are entered into the online platform GeoVisor in near-real-time.- In Brazil, the project began operating in 2019 in two Indigenous territories and a state park, where a total of 16 Indigenous monitors use a cellphone app to report threats to the forest.- In Peru, Amazônia 2.0 is already acknowledged by the government as a management and governance model for forests and indigenous lands.

  • Reversing warming quickly could prevent worst climate change effects: Study

    - Irreversible and catastrophic environmental tipping points could still be avoided, even if we exceed global emission reduction targets — provided the world is able to reverse overshoot quickly, according to researchers.- Simple mathematical models of four earth system tipping elements reveal a lag between overshooting the threshold and irreversible change. “Slow-onset” elements like icecap melt operate on century-long timescales, while Amazon dieback could pass a point of no return in just decades.- However, experts warn that the models fail to take interactions between different tipping elements into account, which could shorten the amount of time a threshold can be overshot. Many of these interactions are poorly understood, making them difficult to include in climate models.- Researchers say these results show there is still good reason to take action to mitigate global warming, even if we do overshoot the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C. Some warn the study results could be used as an excuse to tolerate further delays on global climate action.

  • Bolsonaro abandons enhanced Amazon commitment same day he makes it

    - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro offered up Amazon conservation promises during the April 22 virtual Climate Leaders Summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden and attended by heads of state from more than forty nations.- That same day, Bolsonaro approved Brazil’s 2021 budget that includes a R$240 million ($44 million) annual reduction for the Ministry of the Environment. Conservationists say that the cuts will be utterly devastating for the nation’s deforestation monitoring program.- The reductions will also impact the monitoring of pollution levels, pesticide contamination (Brazil under Bolsonaro is the biggest user of pesticides in the world), illegal mining, and wildlife trafficking. ICMbio, which oversees 334 of Brazil’s protected areas, also saw cuts.- While environmentalists were enraged by the slashed ministry budget, the agricultural sector remains largely happy with Bolsonaro whose policies continue to benefit them. However, if Brazil continues along an anti-environmental path, it risks global boycotts of its commodities.

  • We need more rewilding and connections to nature, says Enrique Ortiz

    - Enrique Ortiz is a Peruvian biologist who has been working in conservation in Latin America since the 1970s. Today he works at the Andes Amazon Fund, a philanthropic initiative that has helped establish 79 protected areas and get 18 Indigenous territories titled.- Ortiz says the pandemic has been “terrible and tragic” for both people and the environment, with a rise in poverty, violence against environmental defenders, and environmental crime and degradation.- But he also notes surprising resilience where communities and local governments have continued protecting wilderness despite COVID-19.- Ortiz spoke about these issues and more during an April 2021 conversation with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.