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|
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.