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|
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.
Rainforests: 11 things to watch in 2021
- 2020 was a rough year for tropical rainforest conservation efforts. So what’s in store for 2021?- Mongabay Founder Rhett A. Butler reviews some of 11 key things to watch in the world of rainforests in 2021.- These include: the post COVID recovery; the transition of power in the U.S.; deforestation in Indonesia; deforestation in Brazil; the effects of the La Niña climate pattern; ongoing destabilization of tropical forests; government to government carbon deals; data that will allow better assessment of the impact of COVID on tropical forests; companies incorporating forest-risk into decision-making; ongoing violence against environmental defenders; and whether international policy meetings can get back on track.
How the pandemic impacted rainforests in 2020: a year in review
- 2020 was supposed to be a make-or-break year for tropical forests. It was the year when global leaders were scheduled to come together to assess the past decade’s progress and set the climate and biodiversity agendas for the next decade. These included emissions reductions targets, government procurement policies and corporate zero-deforestation commitments, and goals to set aside protected areas and restore degraded lands.- COVID-19 upended everything: Nowhere — not even tropical rainforests — escaped the effects of the global pandemic. Conservation was particularly hard in tropical countries.- 2019’s worst trends for forests mostly continued through the pandemic including widespread forest fires, rising commodity prices, increasing repression and violence against environmental defenders, and new laws and policies in Brazil and Indonesia that undermine forest conservation.- We don’t yet have numbers on the degree to which the pandemic affected deforestation, because it generally takes several months to process that data. That being said, there are reasons to suspect that 2020’s forest loss will again be substantial.
Traditional and Indigenous peoples ‘denounce’ planned Amazon railway
- The Ferrovia Paraense (FEPASA) railway if fully completed would run 1,312 kilometers (815 miles) from Santana do Araguaia in southern Pará, along the state’s eastern border, to the port city of Barcarena on the Amazon River. It could carry 80 million tons of mining ores and agribusiness commodities annually.- In 2019, Pará state signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Communication Construction Company for a R$7 billion (US$1.4 billion) investment to fund the building of 492 kilometers (305 miles) of the railway, from Marabá to Barcarena. Construction is currently expected to start in 2021.- But that plan could be delayed by resistance from Indigenous and traditional communities who say they’ve yet to be consulted on the project, as required by international law. FEPASA and Ferrogrão (Grainrail) will integrate Pará into Brazil’s vast rail network, greatly aiding export of Amazon commodities to China.- A letter from the Amazon communities to Pará’s government accused it and its allies of “forcing on us a development model that does not represent us, that is imposing railways,… expelling people from their lands, ending our food security, destroying our people, destroying our cultures,… and killing our forests.”
Soy moratorium averted New Jersey-size loss of Amazon rainforest: Study
- A new study sought to quantify the impact of the Amazon soy moratorium, signed in 2006 by companies accounting for around 90% of the soy sourced from the Brazilian Amazon.- The companies agreed that they would not purchase soy grown on plots that were recently deforested.- The research demonstrates that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon between 2006 and 2016 was 35% lower than it would have been without the moratorium, likely keeping 18,000 square kilometers (6,950 square miles) of the Amazon standing.- Despite the success, observers question whether the ban on soy from deforested areas of the Amazon will prevent the loss of rainforest over the long term.
Historical analysis: The Amazon’s mineral wealth — curse or blessing?
- Mining of gold and other precious metals in the Amazon fueled the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires, while bringing misery and death to unknown hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people and African slaves, forced to work the mines.- Modern industrial mining came to the Brazilian Amazon in the late 1940s as transnational firms began digging up and processing manganese, iron, bauxite, zinc, and other ores. Like the earlier iterations of mining, transnational firms, investors, and nations profited hugely, while local people saw little benefit.- Brazil offered massive subsidies and tax incentives to attract transnational mining companies, and built giant public works projects, including mega-dams, transmission lines, and roads to provide energy and other services to the mines. Though the government offered little to disrupted traditional communities.- All this came with extraordinary socio-environmental costs, as Brazilian Amazon deforestation soared, land and waterways were polluted, and Indigenous and riverine peoples were deprived of their traditional ways of life and lands, and suffered major public health repercussions. This mining trend continues today.
Peruvian court absolves cacao company of illegal Amazon deforestation after “lobbying effort”
- A local court in Peru today reversed a ruling against employees of a company charged with illegal deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, effectively absolving them of crimes associated with converting rainforest into a cacao plantation.- The move, which comes after the cacao company Tamshi SAC launched a pressure campaign against the prosecutor’s office, undercuts a years-long investigation into the deforestation and “sets a terrible precedent” as Peru struggles to combat rising forest loss in the region, say prosecutors and environmentalists.- The Ministry of the Environment said via Twitter that it would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.- Tamshi SAC, formerly known as Cacao del Perú Norte SAC, cleared nearly 2,000 hectares of primary rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon since 2013.
Brazilian woman threatened by Amazon loggers wins global human rights award
- Rural community leader Osvalinda Alves Pereira is the first Brazilian to receive the Edelstam Prize, a Swedish award given to human rights defenders. She was honored this November for her brave stand against illegal loggers and for her defense of the Amazon agrarian reform community of Areia in Pará state.- Illegal loggers there have repeatedly threatened Osvalinda and her husband with violence, forcing them out of their community and into urban safe houses. Now the couple has returned to their rural home; threats to Osvalinda and her community have resumed since she received the Edelstam Prize.- Illegal deforestation, especially the illegal export of rare and valuable Amazon woods, has been strongly aided by the deregulatory policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, according to critics, who also say that the president’s incendiary rhetoric is emboldening illegal loggers and others to violence.- Still threatened by logging militias in Amazonia, Osvalinda received the award just a week after President Bolsonaro in a speech tried to shift responsibility for the policing of Amazon illegal deforestation away from Brazil and onto its foreign trading partners who are importing timber from the South American nation.