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-Jul-10
|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|
Amazon rainforest the size of Sao Paulo cleared in July in Brazil
- An area of rainforest larger than the city of São Paulo was cleared during the month of July, bringing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon to 9,205 square kilometers over the past 12 months, according to official government data released today by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute INPE.- INPE’s satellite-based deforestation alert system registered 1,654 square kilometers of forest clearing last month, a decline from the 2,255 square kilometers detected the same month a year ago. Still, forest loss in the region puts the 2019/2020 deforestation year, which runs from August 1 to July 31, to be the highest since at least 2007.- The sharp year-over-year rise in deforestation was confirmed by Imazon, a Brazilian NGO that independently monitors forest loss in the region, which found a 29% increase via its “SAD” system.- Deforestation has been trending higher since 2012 but accelerated since early 2019.
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.
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.
Expand conserved areas to boost global economy ravaged by COVID-19: Report
- Protecting 30% of the world’s lands and oceans would cost $140 billion annually, with the target reachable by 2030, according to a report by an international team of scientists and economists released this month.- Dramatically increasing protected areas would provide a buffer between human and wildlife communities, helping prevent pandemics such as COVID-19, while also greatly boosting economic growth and sustainability.- The benefits of implementing the 30% conservation goal outweigh the costs by a five-to-one ratio, according to this first economic analysis of the U.N. protected areas target.- Some countries have already met this goal, including Bolivia, Germany, Namibia, Poland, Tanzania, Venezuela and Zambia, but Brazil, home to the world’s largest remaining rainforest, is slipping on its previous conservation commitments.
Scientists measure Amazon drought and deforestation feedback loop: Study
- Researchers have warned about the Amazon rainforest-to-savanna tipping point for years, but a clearer picture of how this may happen is emerging with new research.- A recent study covering the years 2003-2014 in the Amazon basin found that the deforestation-drought feedback loop accounts for 4% of the region’s drought, and 0.13% of deforestation per millimeter of rainfall lost (for example, a rainfall decrease of 200 millimeters would then trigger an additional 26% increase in deforestation).- Experts not connected with the study say that the actual percentages could be higher, because Brazilian politics have shifted since 2003-14, leading to major deforestation, while climate change impacts have intensified. The authors agree their results may be underestimated, but say the figures are useful in setting a baseline for climate models.- Deforestation and drying in the Amazon could cause the rainforest to spiral into becoming a degraded, dry savanna if nothing is done to deactivate the feedback loop. However, it is difficult to say how soon that tipping point will be reached.
World’s biggest meatpacker JBS bought illegally grazed Amazon cattle: Report
- Brazil’s meatpackers have long been accused of “laundering cattle,” a process in which young calves are fattened on newly and illegally deforested lands within indigenous reserves and on other conserved tracts, then transferred to “legal ranches” where no deforestation has occurred, before being sold to meat processors who turn a blind eye.- The Brazilian government has abetted this illicit accounting sleight of hand by not requiring tagging and tracking cattle from birth, and allowing incomplete accounting records. So laundered beef is sold to China, the European Union and other nations, as well as to Brazilian consumers, all unaware of the Amazon deforestation connection.- Now Amnesty International has documented cases in which they allege that JBS, the world’s biggest meat processor, bought cattle illegally reared on the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau indigenous reserve and the Rio Jacy-Paraná and Rio Ouro Preto extractive reserves in Rondônia state, epicenter of 2019’s Amazon fires and of Brazilian deforestation.- JBS has denied the charges, but has often had such allegations made against it in the past.
International investors urge Brazil to take real action to stop deforestation
- Jan Erik Saugestad, executive vice president of Norway’s Storebrand Asset Management, who has led an international pressure campaign against deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, says the government must back up its promises with action to reverse the rising trend.- In an exclusive interview, he describes his recent meeting with Vice President Hamilton Mourão, where there were initial commitments made to reduce deforestation rates and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples and human rights.- Saugestad says investors need evidence that the Brazilian government and companies, particularly in the beef industry, will follow up on these commitments with meaningful action.- Saugestad also says climate change has already caused damage to some economic sectors, and adds that “we are only seeing the beginning of some of these risks.”
Amazon fires rage despite official ban, Greenpeace photos reveal
- Landholders in the Brazilian Amazon are continuing to burn forests despite an official government ban on burning in the region, photographs released today by Greenpeace Brazil reveal.- The photos, captured during flyovers conducted between July 7th and 10th in the state of Mato Grosso, documented fires in recently cleared areas and adjacent forests.- Greenpeace’s photos come a week after Brazil’s national space research institute INPE released data showing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased for the past 15 consecutive months, putting the 12-month rate 96% higher than when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019.- Independent assessments of the situation in the Amazon by Imazon, a Brazilian NGO, and the Amazon Conservation Association’s MAAP Initiative, an international NGO, are consistent with INPE’s data, showing a strong increase in forest loss this year.