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|
Trans-Purus: Brazil’s last intact Amazon forest at immediate risk (commentary)
- Brazil’s remaining Amazon forest is roughly divided in half by the Purus River, just west of the notorious BR-319 (Manaus-Porto Velho) highway. To the west of the river lies the vast “Trans-Purus” region — intact rainforest stretching to the Peruvian border. To the east, the forest is already heavily deforested, degraded and fragmented.- Multiple threats are now closing in on the Trans-Purus region, and expected to increase greatly with the impending “reconstruction” of the BR-319. Planned roads linked to the BR-319 would open the Trans-Purus region to land grabbers (grileiros), organized landless farmers (sem-terras) and other actors from Brazil’s “arc of deforestation.”- A massive planned gas and oil project would also likely lead to new road connections to the other planned highways in the Trans-Purus area, opening even more of the region to invasion. Asian oil palm and logging companies are among those with a historical interest in the area.- This last large block of intact Brazilian Amazon forest is essential for ecosystem services — maintaining biodiversity, carbon stocks, and the forest water cycling functions essential for rainfall in other parts of Brazil and neighboring countries. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
Crimefighting NGO tracks Brazil wildlife trade on WhatsApp and Facebook
- A nonprofit, the National Network Combating Wild Animal Trafficking (RENCTAS) was founded in 1999, and since then has won international awards and acclaim for its innovative approach to tracking and combating the global illegal wildlife trade, especially the sourcing of animals in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest and Cerrado savanna biomes.- The group’s pioneering strategy: use social media to track the sale and movement of animals out of Brazil, and turn over the data to law enforcement. In 1999, it identified nearly 6,000 ads featuring the illegal sale of animals on e-commerce platforms. By 2019, it reported 3.5 million advertisements for the illegal trade on social networks.- The most trafficked Brazilian animals currently: the double-collared seedeater (Sporophila caerulescens); a small, finch-like songbird with a yellow bill that thrives in the southern Cerrado, and the white-cheeked spider monkey (Ateles marginatus), found across the Amazon basin. Sales of animals have been tracked to 200+ illegal trafficking organizations.- Tragically, of the millions of Brazilian animals captured, sold, resold, and transported, only an estimated 1 in 10 ever reach Brazilian and foreign consumers alive. The rest, ripped from their homes, starved and abused, die in transit.
The Amazon’s Yanomami utterly abandoned by Brazilian authorities: Report
- A new report highlights the escalating existential crisis among the 30,000 Indigenous people living in the Yanomami Territory, covering 9,664,975 hectares (37,317 square miles) in northern Brazil. Data shows that the Yanomami reserve is in the top ten areas now most prone to illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.- The report accuses Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazilian government of abandoning the Yanomami to the invasion of their territory by tens-of-thousands of illegal miners. While the administration has launched sporadic operations to stop these incursions, the miners return as soon as police leave the reserve.- Bolsonaro is also accused of having done little to combat COVID-19 or provide basic healthcare. As a result, pandemic case numbers have grown by 250% in the last three months, now possibly infecting 10,000 Yanomami and Ye’kwana, about a third of the reserve’s entire population, with deaths recorded among adults and children.- “Children, young people and the generations to come deserve to live healthy lives in their forest home. Their futures should not be cut off by the actions of a genocidal administration,” says the report compiled by the Yanomami and Ye’kwana and a network of academics. Brazil’s Health Ministry denied the charge of negligence.
Multiplying Amazon river ports open new Brazil-to-China commodities routes
- Nearly 100 major industrial river ports have been built on the Brazilian Amazon’s major rivers over the past two decades. Many of the projects have been internationally financed and built by commodities companies with little government oversight.- These ports have transformed the region, opening it to agribusiness and the export of commodities, especially soy, to China and the rest of the world. However, this boom in port infrastructure often came at the expense of the environment and traditional riverine communities.- Today, more than 40 additional major river ports are planned in the Amazon biome on the Tapajós, Tocantins, Madeira and other rivers, projects again being pursued largely without taking cumulative socioenvironmental impacts into account.- “What resources do these soy men bring to our city?” asked Manoel Munduruku, an Indigenous leader. “They only bring destruction.”
As 2020 Amazon fire season winds down, Brazil carbon emissions rise
- 2,500+ major blazes burned across Brazil’s Legal Amazon between late May and early November. Many were on recently deforested lands, indicative of land grabbers converting forests to pastures and croplands, while others were within conserved areas and Indigenous reserves. Of concern: 41% of burns were in standing forests.- Estimates say that nearly 5.4 million acres (2.2 million hectares) of Brazil’s Amazon standing rainforest burned this year — an area roughly the size of the country of Wales in the United Kingdom.- Brazil’s soaring deforestation rates and Amazon fires point to another problem: the nation is not on track to meet its 2020 goals under the Paris Climate Agreement for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, carbon emissions in Brazil did not fall, but rose by 9.6%, in 2019, the first year of President Jair Bolsonaro’s four-year term.- Under its UN climate commitments, Brazil is only required to measure fire-related greenhouse gas emissions from newly deforested lands, not from fires in standing forests. A questionable practice, say some critics, as fires in the Amazon are routinely set by people and escape into forests. The highest CO2 emissions from forest fires in the Amazon don’t happen during the burn, but years later, a new study concludes, complicating emission estimates.
Brazil’s Bem Querer dam: An impending Amazon disaster (commentary)
- Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has announced his administration’s priorities for Amazon dams, including the planned Bem Querer dam on the Rio Branco in the far-northern state of Roraima.- Bem Querer is primarily intended to increase the energy supply to industries in locations outside of Amazonia, rather than for residents of Roraima.- Probable environmental impacts include blocking fish migrations and flooding a riparian forest that possesses extraordinary bird diversity. Downstream flow alteration would impact protected areas, including two Ramsar wetland biodiversity sites. Riverside dwellers would also be impacted.- Sediment flow blockage would impact fisheries and the unique Anavilhanas Archipelago, a spectacular Brazilian national park. These adverse impacts need to be fully evaluated before a decision to build is made. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Amazon deforestation shoots higher in October, reversing 3-month trend
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose 50 percent in October, ending a streak where the deforestation rate had declined for three straight months, according to data released Friday by the national space research institute INPE.- The news came days after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared to threaten the use of military force against the United States should it attempt to impose sanctions on the South American country for its failure to slow rising deforestation.- Bolsonaro is known for making contentious statements, including blaming environmentalists, Indigenous peoples, and the actor Leonardo DiCaprio for deforestation in the Amazon.- Bolsonaro has presided over a sharp increase in deforestation since he took office in January 2019.
Brazil sees record number of bids to mine illegally on Indigenous lands
- An exclusive investigation shows Brazil’s mining regulator continues to entertain requests to mine in Indigenous territories, which is prohibited under the country’s Constitution.- There have been 145 such applications filed this year, the highest number in 24 years, spurred by President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-Indigenous rhetoric and a bill now before Congress that would permit mining on Indigenous lands.- Prosecutors and judges say that by maintaining these unconstitutional mining applications on file and not immediately rejecting them, the mining regulator is granting them a semblance of legitimacy.- Mining represents a real threat to the Brazilian Amazon, where the protected status of Indigenous territories is the main reason the forests they contain remain standing.
Satellites, maps and the flow of cattle: Brazilian solutions for reducing deforestation are already in use
- Complete tracking of the cattle supply chain from calving to slaughter would guarantee that the beef produced in the Amazon is untainted by illegal deforestation.- The largest meatpackers have been promising to track their indirect suppliers since 2009. Now, under pressure from investors, they have set a deadline of 2025.- The tracing technology and data already exist. But a lack of integration between information systems, concerns over data confidentiality and resistance from the sector are slowing progress.
BR-319: The beginning of the end for Brazil’s Amazon forest (commentary)
- Brazil’s planned reconstruction of the BR-319 (Manaus-Porto Velho) Highway paralleling the Purus and Madeira rivers would give deforesters access to about half of what remains of the country’s Amazon forest, and so is perhaps the most consequential conservation issue for Brazil today.- The highway route is essentially a lawless area today, and the lack of governance is a critical issue in the battle over licensing the highway reconstruction project.- The BR-319 upgrade would link the current “arc of deforestation” to central Amazonia, allowing movement of deforestation actors to all forest locations with road links to Manaus, while a planned BR-319 connecting road would open the vast forest area between the BR-319 and the Peruvian border.- The BR-319 Environmental Impact Assessment has many flaws, including ignoring impacts beyond those adjacent to the highway. The EIA also contains passages admitting to some disastrous project impacts. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.