Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) publishes land use change data on a monthly basis using its DETER-B system (Sistema de Detecção do Desmatamento na Amazônia Legal em Tempo Real). Below is a table with the monthly data since the system went public in August 2016. All figures are square kilometers.
Last update: 2020-Oct-8
|Month||Degradation||Deforestation||Mining||Wildfire scar||Selective Cut|
Trailing twelve months of data
Tracking data on a 12-month basis adjusts for seasonality and is a better indicator of trends than month-to-month data.
|Month||Degradation||Deforestation||Mining||Wildfire scar||Selective Cut|
Facebook enabling Amazon land grabbing, deforestation, finds investigation
- BBC Brasil, in a new TV documentary, penetrated deep within criminal networks illegally selling and deforesting conserved lands — even within an Indigenous reserve. In a new twist, some land grabbers are posting the plots they’re selling on Facebook, a practice likely to bring international attention and outrage.- The sellers may have moved to utilizing Facebook ads because the lawbreakers say they have virtually no fear of prosecution from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Since 2019, his administration has largely gutted and defunded the nation’s environmental regulatory, protection and enforcement agencies.- When contacted by the BBC about allowing the ads to be placed on its platform, Facebook said that it was “ready to work with the local authorities” to investigate the alleged crimes but that it would not be taking independent action on its own to halt the land trade. While some ads were pulled, others remain on Facebook.
As Amazon forest-to-savanna tipping point looms, solutions remain elusive
- Leading scientists project that if an additional 3-8% of rainforest cover is lost in the Amazon, it may overshoot a forest-to-degraded-savanna tipping point. That shift could mean mega-drought, forest death, and release of great amounts of stored carbon to the atmosphere from southern, eastern and central Amazonia.- Despite this warning, Brazilian Amazon deforestation hit an 11-year high in 2020. Government clampdowns on environmental crime greatly decreased deforestation in the past, but Brazil is now facing a political backlash led by President Jair Bolsonaro, resulting in agribusiness and mining expansion and deforestation.- Market efforts to create incentives have been ineffective. A public-private plan to cut deforestation led by Mato Grosso state has not met its environmental targets, even as agricultural lands increased. Amazonas, Acre and Rondônia — Bolsonaro-aligned states — are pushing for the creation of a new agriculture frontier.- Indigenous communities, because they’re the best land stewards, should be at the forefront of public policy to conserve the Amazon, say experts, but instead they face poverty and marginalization by the institutions responsible for securing their land rights. International response to the Amazon crisis has also lagged.
Brazil’s BR-319: Politicians capitalize on the Manaus oxygen crisis to promote a disastrous highway (Commentary)
- Brazil’s proposed reconstruction of the formerly abandoned BR-319 highway is notorious for its potential impact on Amazonian deforestation and indigenous peoples.- The highway would connect Manaus, in the center of the Amazon, to the “arc of deforestation” in the southern part of the region, opening vast areas of forest to invasion.- The current oxygen crisis in Manaus has been a windfall for politicians promoting the highway project, using the false argument that BR-319 is needed to supply oxygen to the city.- This text is translated and expanded from the first author’s column on the Amazônia Real website. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
Investigation: Dutch, Japanese pension funds pay for Amazon deforestation
- Two pension funds in the Netherlands and one from Japan have invested a combined half a billion dollars in Brazil’s top three meatpackers.- These investments in cattle ranching, an industry that’s the main driver of Amazon deforestation, contradict the environmental stances of the respective funds and their national governments.- The fund managers and other experts say maintaining their stake is a more effective way of pushing for change in the companies than simply dumping the stock.- But there’s also a growing realization that continued exposure to environmental risks over the long term will incur not just ethical and reputational harm for the funds, but even financial fallout.
Brazil guts agencies, ‘sabotaging environmental protection’ in Amazon: Report
- A new report documents draconian budget cuts to Brazilian environmental monitoring and firefighting of 9.8% in 2020, and 27.4% in 2021 — reductions, analysts say that were inflicted by the Bolsonaro administration in “a clear policy for dismantling national environmental policies.”- Brazil’s environmental agencies under Bolsonaro have also been subjected to nearly 600 administrative and rules changes, invoked by presidential executive order and resulting in massive environmental deregulation.- Under Bolsonaro, deforestation has soared, with an increase of 34% in the last two years, even as capacity to punish environmental criminals fell sharply due to funding shortages. Fines imposed for illegal deforestation, instead of rising during this Amazon environmental crime wave, fell by 42% from 2019 to 2020.- Faced with Bolsonaro’s gutting of environmental agencies and protections, two Indigenous leaders — Kayapo Chief Raoni Metuktire, and Paiter Surui Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui — have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague to investigate President Bolsonaro for “crimes against humanity.”
Amazon is on the brink of turning into a carbon source, study warns
- Forests remain a carbon sink, stashing away 7.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, but their ability to lock carbon is weakening.- In the last 20 years alone, forests in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia, have turned into net carbon emitters, and the Amazon threatens to go the same way.- Most of the Amazon lies in Brazil, and between 2001 and 2019 the Brazilian Amazon acted as a net carbon source, a new study has found.- What is especially worrying is the loss of pristine swaths of forests in countries like Madagascar that have kept carbon out of the atmosphere for decades, if not centuries.
Indigenous groups blast Amazon state’s plan to legalize wildcat mining
- Brazilian legislators in the Amazon state of Roraima have passed a bill legalizing garimpo wildcat mining on state lands without studies. Amendments would also legalize the use of toxic mercury in gold processing, and greatly expand the legal size of mining claims.- Indigenous groups say the law was passed without adequate consultation, and will invite gold miner invasions of Indigenous reserves in the state, including that of the Yanomami, the largest reserve in Brazil. Since the election of President Jair Bolsonaro more than 20,000 illegal miners have been reported on Yanomami lands.- Wildcat mining is already legal in some Brazilian Amazon states. Based on that experience, experts say that legalization in Roraima will enable fraud, with gold illegally mined in Indigenous reserves “laundered” to become “legal” gold, and illicit “conflict gold” trafficked from neighboring Venezuela laundered in Roraima.- The Roraima garimpo mining bill now awaits the state governor’s signature.
Podcast: What are the tropical forest storylines to watch in 2021?
- Happy new year to all of our faithful Mongabay Newscast listeners! For our first episode of the year, we take stock of how the world’s rainforests fared in 2020 and look ahead to the major stories to watch in 2021.- We’re joined by Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett Butler, who discusses the impacts of the Covid pandemic on tropical forest conservation efforts, the most important issues likely to impact rainforests in 2021, and why he remains hopeful despite setbacks in recent years.- We also speak with Joe Eisen, executive director of Rainforest Foundation UK, who helps us dig deeper into the major issues and events that will affect Africa’s rainforests in the coming year.
California-sized area of forest lost in just 14 years
- An area of forest roughly the size of California was cleared across the tropics and subtropics between 2004 and 2017 largely for commercial agriculture, finds a new assessment published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).- The report looks at the state of forests and causes of deforestation in 24 “active deforestation fronts”, which account for over half of all tropical and subtropical deforestation that occurred over the 14-year period. These include nine forest areas in Latin America, eight in Africa, and seven in Asia and Oceania.- Using five satellite-based datasets, the report finds 43 million hectares (166,000 square miles) of deforestation during the period. Nearly two-thirds of that loss occurred in Latin America.- The report lays out a series of actions to address deforestation, include policy measures by governments and companies. These range from commodity sourcing policies to recognizing Indigenous and local communities’ land rights.
Lack of protection leaves Spain-size swath of Brazilian Amazon up for grabs
- Fifty million hectares (124 million acres) of undesignated forest in the Brazilian Amazon, an area the size of Spain, is under growing threat of illegal occupation and deforestation facilitated by a controversial government land registry.- A Greenpeace Brazil study shows 62% of undesignated forest along a stretch of the BR-163 Highway has been illegally invaded and then registered by the occupiers with the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR).- CAR, a self-declaratory system, was created in 2012 to help identify those responsible for rural plots, however, combined with the current weakening of environmental agencies and of field actions against deforestation, it’s helping legitimize land grabbing.- The problem of land grabbing in the Amazon, often by speculators looking to sell to cattle ranchers and crop growers, is not new, but the situation has intensified under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro. The Greenpeace researchers say there’s little prospect of a crackdown on land grabbing under the present political scenario.