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-Feb-26
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.
As COVID-19 rages, evangelical pastor may contact remote Amazon tribes
- U.S. Christian Baptist evangelical missionary Andrew Tonkin, from Frontier International, is allegedly planning to contact and convert isolated indigenous groups in the Javari Indigenous Reserve in western Amazonas state, Brazil — an accusation Tonkin denies. Ethnos360, another evangelical group has similar plans.- Missionary work among isolated indigenous peoples is currently banned by FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous agency. Marubo and Mayoruna indigenous leaders made the accusation against Tonkin, who has invaded the Javari Reserve, flaunting FUNAI regulations, in the past.- Brazil’s independent federal prosecutor’s office (MPF) has asked federal police to investigate Tonkin’s alleged plan of an illegal expedition to an area known as Igarapé Lambança, populated by isolated Korubo tribespeople. However, it is as yet unknown what action the federal police will take.- The risk of evangelicals unknowingly spreading coronavirus is just one threat to Javari Reserve inhabitants. Major invasions by traffickers, illegal miners and loggers, along with an upswing in violence are well underway there, while President Jair Bolsonaro continues planning to open indigenous reserves to large-scale mining.
BR-319 illegal side road threatens Amazon protected area, indigenous land (commentary)
- Brazil faces a critical decision on licensing Highway BR-319, in the Purus / Madeira river basins of Amazonas state, which would “chop the Amazon rainforest in half.”- The highway would bring deforesters to vast areas of intact Amazon rainforest. Protected areas along the route have been created to avert spread of deforestation.- However, an illegal side road is already being built connecting with the BR-319, and accessing one of those protected areas, while also threatening indigenous and traditional riverine communities.- The construction of this illegal road dramatizes the fiction that governance measures would control on-the-ground events if the completed highway is licensed. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
First possible COVID-19 indigenous cases detected near key Amazon reserve
- It is widely suspected that Brazil’s indigenous people will be very vulnerable to COVID-19, as they have shown little resistance to Western respiratory illnesses in the past. Isolated indigenous groups, lacking all healthcare support, would be particularly defenseless.- UPDATE: After this story was first published, the city of Atalaia do Norte claimed that an indigenous Marubo man, suspected of coronavirus infection, tested negative for COVID-19. However, a journalist double-checking the facts found that no test was ever analyzed; when confronted, the city claimed a “communication mistake.”- On 13 March, FUNAI potentially opened a new route for disease spread as it weakened its “no contact” isolated indigenous group rule, broadening sole decision-making power for contact from its central authority to 39 regional coordinators. Outcry quickly caused FUNAI to reverse itself, reinstating the “no contact” policy.- Experts are very concerned about the indigenous harm coronavirus could cause, especially due to Jair Bolsonaro’s weakening of the rural public health service. Some analysts worry the health and social chaos COVID-19 would bring could cause ruralists and land grabbers to exploit the situation, seizing indigenous lands.
Amazon indigenous put at risk by Brazil’s feeble Covid-19 response: Critics
- Brazil’s indigenous movement is vigorously reorganizing its tactics in response to what it sees as the government’s ineffective response to the coronavirus. Indigenous leaders have also been forced to cancel the April Free Land Encampment in Brasília, at which they annually publicize their grievances to a large international audience.- The cancelation was carried out to prevent activists from contracting Covid-19 in the city and carrying it back to Brazil’s remote Amazon indigenous communities. Indigenous peoples in Brazil historically have little resistance to new infectious diseases, and particularly respiratory diseases.- Especially now at risk are isolated peoples in the western Amazon. Such groups are extremely susceptible to disease, but analysts fear that Bolsonaro will end the government’s “no contact” rule, practiced successfully for the past thirty years. If contacted, isolated groups could easily be infected and decimated by Covid-19.- The indigenous movement is swiftly adopting new communication strategies, utilizing technology and social media to press forward with online meetings and awareness campaigns. There are grave disease concerns in Amazonas and Mato Grosso do Sul states, which have the biggest indigenous populations in Brazil.
Qualified success: What’s next for Peru’s Operation Mercury?
- The Peruvian government’s launch of Operation Mercury to crack down on illegal mining had a burst of initial success, cutting deforestation by 92% since its kickoff in February 2019.- Concerns have surfaced that the operation would simply displace miners, forcing them to deforest new areas.- However, satellite imagery analysis published in January 2020 revealed that, while deforestation due to mining continues to be a problem in southeastern Peru, Operation Mercury has not led to a surge in forest loss adjacent to the targeted area.- The government is also investing in programs aimed at providing employment alternatives so that people don’t return to mining.
Bringing Christ and coronavirus: Evangelicals to contact Amazon indigenous
- As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, with more than 300 known cases already in Brazil, and members of Pres. Jair Bolsonaro’s staff infected, an evangelical Christian organization has purchased a helicopter with plans to contact and convert isolated indigenous groups in the remote Western Amazon.- Ethnos360, formerly known as the New Tribes Mission, is notorious for past attempts to contact and convert isolated Indians, having spread disease among the Zo’é living in northern Pará state. Once contacted, the Zo’é, lacking resistance, began dying from malaria and influenza, losing over a third of their population.- Ethnos360 is planning its Christian conversion mission despite the fact that FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency, has a longstanding policy against contact with isolated groups. Their so-called “missionary aviation” contact plan may also violate Brazil’s 1988 Constitution and international treaties.- Analysts worry Brazil may be about to overturn its “no contact” FUNAI policy. In February, Bolsonaro put Ricardo Lopez Dias in charge of The Coordination of Isolated and Recently Contacted Indians (CGIIRC), a FUNAI department. Dias was a missionary for New Tribes Mission for over a decade, doing conversion work.
Extreme El Niño drought, fires contribute to Amazon insect collapse: Study
- A recent study found that dung beetle species experienced significant diversity and population declines in human-modified tropical Brazilian ecosystems in the aftermath of droughts and fires exacerbated after the 2015-2016 El Niño climate event.- Forests that burned during the El Niño lost, on average, 64% of their dung beetle species while those affected only by drought showed an average decline of 20%. Dung beetles provide vital ecoservices, processing waste and dispersing seeds and soil nutrients.- For roughly the past three years, entomologists have been sounding alarms over a possible global collapse of insect abundance. In the tropics, climate change, habitat destruction and pesticide use are having clear impacts on insect abundance and diversity. However, a lack of funds and institutional interest is holding back urgently needed research.
Complaint alleges oil company left Peru communities’ environment in ruins
- Indigenous communities and human rights NGOs contend that Pluspetrol violated a set of business standards issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).- The complaint, delivered March 11 in the Netherlands, says the company has avoided paying taxes and has failed to address damage to the environment in the Peruvian Amazon caused by its oil-drilling activities through 2015.- The groups allege that the release of toxic heavy metals into the water supply have caused numerous health problems for community members.
Brazil drastically reduces controls over suspicious Amazon timber exports
- Forest degradation nearly doubled in the Brazilian Amazon last year, rising from 4,946 square kilometers in 2018, to 9,167 square kilometers in 2019. Experts say this is likely due to soaring illegal timber harvesting and export under President Jair Bolsonaro.- To facilitate illegal harvesting of rare and valuable timber, like that of the Ipê tree, whose wood can sell for up to $2,500 per cubic meter at Brazilian export terminals, Bolsonaro’s environment officials have reversed regulations that formerly outlawed suspicious timber shipments, making most such exports legal.- Experts say that the relaxation of illegal export regulations not only protects the criminal syndicates cutting the trees in Amazonia, but also shields exporter Brazil, and importers in the EU, UK, US and elsewhere, preventing them from being accused of causing Amazon deforestation via their supply chains.- Activists fear overturned timber export regulations will embolden illegal loggers, who will escalate invasions onto indigenous and traditional lands, as well as within conservation units. More than 300 people were assassinated over the past decade as the result of land and natural resource conflicts in the Brazilian Amazon.
Drones in the canopy: Project aims to save the Amazon with technology
- In seeking an alternative to the develop-or-conserve dichotomy that governs policymaking over the Amazon, Brazilian scientists have come up with the Amazonia Third Way, a plan to preserve the region’s biodiversity by supercharging sustainable forestry practices with technology.- In the second half of this year, three communities in Pará state will receive the first creative laboratories — mobile units that will bring technologies such as blockchain and drones to the cocoa and cupuaçu production processes. Future laboratories will focus on Brazil nuts, acai berries, essential oils and other products.- The project will also rely on the help of business accelerators and the Rainforest Business School to support so-called bioeconomy start-ups and offer training courses for forest communities under this new development paradigm.