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-Jul-10

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 9,320 529 6,880
Apr 2020 930 9,449 649 6,732
Apr 2020 1034 9,564


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

  • Deforestation in the Amazon is drying up the rest of Brazil: Report

    - The center-west, south and part of the southeast regions of Brazil have seen rainfall well below average in recent years.- Agriculture is the first sector to feel the effects of the drought, with drastic losses in production. Water supply and power generation have also been impacted.- Agribusiness suffers the consequences of drought but also causes it: Deforestation of the Amazon to clear land for livestock, farming and logging affects the rainfall regime in Brazil and other Latin American countries.- “South America is drying up as a result of the combined effects of deforestation and climate change”, says scientist Antonio Donato Nobre.

  • Brazil dismantles environmental laws via huge surge in executive acts: Study

    - Between March and May 2020, the government of Jair Bolsonaro published 195 infralegal acts — ordinances, normative instructions, decrees and other measures — which critics say are an indirect means of dismantling Brazil’s environmental laws and bypassing Congress. During the same period in 2019, just 16 such acts were published.- In April, 2020 Environment Minister Ricardo Salles suggested that the administration “run the cattle” which experts say, within the context Salles used the phrase, is a euphemism for utilizing the COVID-19 crisis as a means of distracting Brazilians from the administration’s active undermining of the environmental rule of law.- A partial study of the 195 acts has found that they, among other things, allow rural landowners who illegally deforested and occupied conserved areas in the Atlantic Forest up to July 2008 to receive full amnesty for their crimes. Another change pays indemnities to those who expropriated properties within federal conservation units.- Shifts in administration management responsibilities have also resulted in what experts say is a weakening of regulations granting and managing national forests, and the relaxation of supervision over fisheries that could allow increased illegal trafficking in tropical fish. A study of the repercussions of all 195 acts is continuing.

  • Amazon gold mining wipes out rainforest regeneration for years: Study

    - New research looking at Amazon artisanal gold mining in Guyana has found that the destroyed Amazon forest at mining sites shows no sign of recovery three to four years after a mine pit and tailings pond are abandoned, likely largely due to soil nutrient depletion.- In addition, mercury contamination at the sites drops after a mine is abandoned; mercury is used to process gold. Mercury being a chemical element, it does not break down but can bioaccumulate, so its onsite disappearance means the toxin is possibly leaching into local waters, entering fish, and poisoning riverine people who eat them.- The solution would be the proper restoration of mine sites, especially the proper filling in of mine holes and tailing ponds imitating replacement by natural topsoil. Better regulations, much bigger fines and other penalties, along with enforcement of mining laws would also help seriously curb the problem, say researchers.- But so long as the price of gold continues topping $1,700 an ounce (as it did during the 2008 U.S. housing crisis), or $2,000 an ounce (its current price during the still escalating COVID-19 pandemic), it seems likely that there is little that can curb the enthusiasm of poor and wealthy prospectors alike for digging up the Amazon.

  • Deaths of Yanomami babies from COVID-19 bring anguish to mothers

    - Three indigenous babies from the Yanomami Indigenous group who died with suspected COVID-19 infection were buried in a cemetery in the city of Boa Vista, in Brazil’s Roraima state, far from their villages.- Their mothers don’t speak Portuguese and likely had no understanding of what would happen to their children’s bodies.- It is a Yanomami tradition to cremate their dead, and the ritual can take more than a year to complete.- Indigenous people are now reluctant to seek medical treatment for fear that their bodies will not be returned to the community if they die. A local NGO says the handling of the case shows continued disrespect for Indigenous culture.

  • Goldminers overrun Amazon indigenous lands as COVID-19 surges

    - Reports filed by NGOs including the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) and Greenpeace Brazil say that a major invasion of indigenous reserves and conservation units is underway, prompted by miners well backed with expensive equipment supplied by wealthy elites.- Miners are emboldened, say the NGOs, by the inflammatory anti-indigenous and anti-environmental rhetoric of the Jair Bolsonaro administration which has sent a clear signal so far, that it has no major plans of stopping the invasions or penalizing the perpetrators.- Through June of this year, deforestation by mining within conserved areas represented 67.9% of total tree loss in Legal Amazonia. From January to June, illegal mining destroyed 2,230 hectares (5,510 acres) of forest inside conservation units (UCs) and 1,016 hectares (2,510 acres) inside indigenous territories (TIs).- The miners’ onslaught also poses a serious COVID-19 threat. The virus has so far infected at least 14,647 indigenous people and caused 269 deaths on indigenous lands. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro is pressing for passage of legislation authorizing mining on indigenous lands; presently the bill is stalled in the house of deputies.

  • Indigenous Ashaninka launch fundraiser to help Amazon neighbors amid pandemic

    - In early July, the Ashaninka indigenous people launched a fundraising campaign to encourage food production in communities living near the Kampa do Rio Amônia Indigenous Territory, in the Brazilian state of Acre.- The “Ashaninka for the Peoples of the Forest” campaign plans to raise 1 million reais (about $200,000) to distribute food, farming tools and fishing gear to 1,800 local families, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.- There have been no reports of any Ashaninka being infected with COVID-19 to date; isolated by barriers they set up in the river leading to their village, they’re surviving on their traditional farming techniques.- Nearby communities, however, depend on food aid and lack medical care in highly complex cases, prompting the Ashaninka to launch the fundraising campaign out of a sense of duty.

  • Brazilian Amazon drained of millions of wild animals by criminal networks: Report

    - A new 140-page report is shining a bright light on illegal wildlife trafficking in the Brazilian Amazon. The study finds that millions of birds, tropical fish, turtles, and mammals are being plucked from the wild and traded domestically or exported to the U.S, EU, China, the Middle East and elsewhere. Many are endangered.- This illicit international trade is facilitated by weak laws, weak penalties, inadequate government record keeping, poor law enforcement — as well as widespread corruption, bribery, fraud, forgery, money laundering and smuggling.- While some animals are seized, and some low-level smugglers are caught, the organizers of this global criminal enterprise are rarely brought to justice.- The report notes that this trafficking crisis needs urgent action, as the trade not only harms wildlife, but also decimates ecosystems and puts public health at risk. The researchers point out that COVID-19 likely was transmitted to humans by trafficked animals and that addressing the Brazilian Amazon wildlife trade could prevent the next pandemic.

  • For the Amazon’s rarest wild dog, deforestation is a very real threat

    - The short-eared dog, an elusive species endemic to the Amazon, could lose 30% of its habitat in just the next seven years.- Researchers say the species should be listed as vulnerable, instead of near threatened, on the IUCN Red List to highlight the threats it faces from habitat loss and climate change.- New research shows the short-eared dog may be a vital disperser of Brazil nut trees, helping prop up a $44 million industry.

  • Scientists launch ambitious conservation project to save the Amazon

    - The Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA), an ambitious cooperative project to bring together the existing scientific research on the Amazon biome, has been launched with the support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network.- Modeled on the authoritative UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, the first Amazon report is planned for release in April 2021; that report will include an extensive section on Amazon conservation solutions and policy suggestions backed up by research findings.- The Science Panel for the Amazon consists of 150 experts — including climate, ecological, and social scientists; economists; indigenous leaders and political strategists — primarily from the Amazon countries- According to Carlos Nobre, one of the leading scientists on the project, the SPA’s reports will aim not only to curb deforestation, but to propose an ongoing economically feasible program to conserve the forest while advancing human development goals for the region, working in tandem with, and in support of, ecological systems.

  • Niobium mining in Brazilian Amazon would cause significant forest loss: Study

    - A recent study found that large-scale niobium mining proposals, if carried out in the remote northwest portion of the Brazilian Amazon, would likely cause significant forest loss and threaten biodiversity and fragile ecosystems.- The study comes as President Jair Bolsonaro pushes for an expansion of industrial mining on indigenous lands and his administration turns a blind eye to expanding illegal mining that is threatening indigenous communities in the northern Amazon.- There are two known niobium deposits in the region, at Seis Lagos and at Santa Isabel do Rio Negro, located in the Rio Negro River basin. The Brazilian portion of the Rio Negro River basin is home to 23 Indigenous groups, including the Yanomami people, and holds vast tracts of undisturbed rainforest, rich in biodiversity.- The recent niobium study offers an example of how science can be proactive in analyzing the environmental impact of infrastructure development well before it happens, hopefully helping guide policy decisions to prevent deforestation, pollution, the spread of disease and other problems.