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-Aug-8

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 185 9,371 102 6,289
Mar 2020 327 9,447 324 6,546
Apr 2020 407 9,606 529 6,880
May 2020 833 9,701 649 6,732
Jun 2020 1,039 9,806 822 6,753
Jul 2020 1,654 9,205 1,147 6,613
Aug 2020 1359 8,850 1,499 7,226


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

  • Rieli Franciscato died protecting isolated indigenous peoples in the Amazon (commentary)

    - Rieli Franciscato of the Brazilian government’s Indigenous affairs agency FUNAI was killed last week on the edge of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous territory in Rondonia.- Franciscato, 56, was a sertanista, a “field person” who works in the most remote parts of the Brazilian Amazon. Franciscato specifically worked to protect the rights and territory of Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation in the Amazon rainforest. These peoples are sometimes referred to as “uncontacted tribes” in the press.- In this commentary, Enrique Ortiz, Senior Program Director at the Andes Amazon Fund, writes that Franciscato “died in the hands of those he loved” and notes his death was probably at least part to blame on outsiders who have been invading Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau lands and threatening the tribe. “One can imagine that the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau can see the advances into their territory as a threat to their survival,” he writes.- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

  • Game changer: NASA data tool could revolutionize Amazon fire analysis

    - The Amazon has already seen more forest fires this year than in all of 2019, according to satellite data made available in August 2020 by a new NASA fire analysis tool.- While there are several good fire monitoring satellite systems currently at work above the Amazon, NASA’s new automated system provides near real time monitoring which could allow firefighting teams on the ground to pinpoint fires in remote areas and to take action to put fires out before they spread.- The new system also differentiates between fires in newly deforested areas, understory forest fires, grassland fires and those set by smallholders to annually clear fields. This differentiation allows authorities to zero in on large scale criminal arson committed by land grabbers, while also preventing the criminalization of subsistence farmers.- New information provided by the innovative NASA monitoring tool can count fire carbon emissions and the location and size of burnt areas, all of which could further research on global climate change, mitigation, and biodiversity impacts.

  • 500 years of species loss: Humans drive defaunation across Neotropics

    - A new study indicates that human activities, such as overhunting, habitat loss, and fires, have contributed to a more than 56% decline in species in mammal assemblages in the American tropics.- The study drew on animal inventories at more than 1,000 Neotropical study sites, from studies published in the past 30 to 40 years, but with data going back to the time of European colonization of the American tropics.- The Amazon and Pantanal wetland regions are considered to be relatively “faunally intact,” according to the study, but the current fires in these regions would be adversely affecting wildlife and their habitats.- The researchers say they hope their findings can inform effective conservation policies, such as better management and policing of existing protected areas, and efforts to stop illegal hunting, deforestation and fires.

  • Rise in Amazon deforestation slows in August, but fires surge

    - Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was more than 20 percent lower for the second straight month according to data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE. But forest loss in the world’s largest rainforest remains well above the average of the past decade.- INPE’s analysis of satellite data indicates that 1,359 square kilometers of forest — an area 23 times the size of Manhattan — were cleared last month, a 20.7% drop from August 2019. That follows a 26.7% drop in July.- However INPE’s deforestation data excludes forest loss from fires. More than 1,000 major fires have been registered in the region since late May. Fires in the Amazon have accelerated rapidly in recent weeks, rising to 53 major fires per day in September, up from 18 in August and 2 in July.- Despite the relative decline during the past two months, deforestation detected by INPE’s short-term alert system has amounted to 8,850 square kilometers over the past year, 10% higher than a year ago when Amazon deforestation hit the highest level since 2008.

  • Amazon meatpacking plants, a COVID-19 hotspot, may be ground zero for next pandemic

    - The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that slaughterhouses are among the outbreak hotspots for the disease because of the low temperatures and crowded production lines.- But slaughterhouses are also ideal locations for the emergence of new viruses due to the contact between humans and the blood and entrails of cattle.- Nearly a third of cases where diseases spread from animals to human beings occurred because their natural environments were invaded and destroyed, which puts Brazil’s beef industry, centered in the Amazon, at particularly high risk.- Yet despite the economic fallout from the pandemic, the financial market keeps ignoring this risk and supporting the beef companies most exposed to deforestation in the Amazon.

  • Latin America has twice the plant life of Africa, SE Asia

    - Latin America has more than twice as many plant species as tropical Africa and Southeast Asia and accounts for about a third of global biological diversity, concludes a new study published today in the journal Science Advances.- Using botanical databases, researchers led Missouri Botanical Garden President Emeritus Peter Raven by found Latin America has 118,308 known species of vascular plants, the Afrotropical region has 56,451, and Southeast Asia has about 50,000.- Latin America and the Afrotropical region are roughly equivalent in size, meaning that the Americas south of the Mexico-U.S. border have about twice the richness of species on a per-unit basis. But Southeast Asia, which is only a quarter the size of the other two regions, takes the biodiversity crown in terms of the density of species.- The authors say that their research will be helpful in prioritizing conservation efforts, but that future data collection will be increasingly challenged by rapid habitat loss.

  • Why the health of the Amazon River matters to us all: An interview with Michael Goulding

    - Like the rainforest which takes its name, the Amazon is the largest and most biodiverse river on the planet. The river and its tributaries are a critical thoroughfare for an area the size of the continental United States and function as a key source of food and livelihoods for millions of people. Yet despite its vastness and importance, the mighty Amazon is looking increasingly vulnerable due to human activities.- Few people understand more about the Amazon’s ecology and the wider role it plays across the South American continent than Michael Goulding, an aquatic ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who has worked in the region since the 1970s studying issues ranging from the impact of hydroelectric dams to the epic migration of goliath catfishes. Goulding has written and co-authored some of the most definitive books and papers on the river, its resident species, and its ecological function.- In recognition of his lifetime of advancing conservation efforts in the Amazon, the Field Museum today honored Goulding with the Parker/Gentry Award. The Award — named after ornithologist Theodore A. Parker III and botanist Alwyn Gentry who were killed in a plane crash during an aerial survey of an Ecuadorian cloud forest in 1993 — is given each year to “an outstanding individual, team or organization in the field of conservation biology whose efforts have had a significant impact on preserving the world’s natural heritage and whose actions and approach can serve as a model to others.”- In a September 2020 interview ahead of the prize ceremony, Goulding spoke with Mongabay about his research and the current state of the Amazon.

  • Mercury from gold mining contaminates Amazon communities’ staple fish

    - The four species of fish most commonly consumed by Indigenous and riverine people in the Brazilian state of Amapá contain the highest concentrations of mercury.- In some species, researchers found levels of mercury four times in excess of World Health Organization recommendations.- The mercury comes from gold-mining activity, where it’s used to separate gold from ore before being burned off and washed into the rivers.- The health impacts of mercury contamination are well-documented, and include damage to the central nervous system, potentially resulting in learning disabilities for children and tremors and difficulty walking for adults.

  • $154b in capital has gone to 300 forest-risk companies since the Paris Agreement

    - A database of global capital flows into forest-risk companies has been published by Forest and Finance, a joint project of six research and environmental advocacy groups.- More than 50,000 financial deals were analyzed, showing that at least $153.9 billion in loans and investment were provided to 300 companies in Southeast Asia, Brazil, and West and Central Africa since 2016.- Of the 15 banks with the largest overall loan portfolios in forest-risk industries, eight are signatories to the U.N.’s Principles for Responsible Banking, which calls for a halt to deforestation.

  • Survival of Indigenous communities at risk as Amazon fire season advances

    - The number of major Amazon fires this year has more than doubled since August 13, with most of those fires being illegal. 674 major fires were detected between May 28 and September 2, with a sharp increase inside Indigenous territories in the last two weeks, raising concerns among Indigenous leaders.- Indigenous groups are being left to fight the fires on their own, without support from government institutions. IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency has been largely stripped of funds and lacks adequate equipment to fight the blazes, while the Army, sent to the Amazon in May, is reportedly failing to suppress most fires.- Combined with COVID-19, smoke from fires poses a serious threat to Indigenous health. Native peoples have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and have weaker immune systems for respiratory disease. A recent study shows that Indigenous hospitalizations for respiratory disease coincide with deforestation rates year-by-year.- Isolated Indigenous groups are especially under threat as fires put their food sources at risk. Experts say that isolated and uncontacted groups, to fend off hunger, are sighted more often roaming during Amazon fires, potentially risking exposure to Western diseases.