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-May-15
|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|
Brazilian court orders 20,000 gold miners removed from Yanomami Park
- The Yanomami Park covers 37,000 square miles in the Brazilian Amazon on the Venezuelan border; it is inhabited by 13,000 Yanomami. Soaring gold prices have resulted in a massive ongoing invasion of the indigenous territory by gold miners who are well supported with monetary backing, heavy equipment and aircraft.- On 3 July, a federal judge issued an emergency ruling ordering the Jair Bolsonaro administration to come up with an immediate plan to stop the spread of the pandemic to Yanomami Park, a plan which must include the removal of all 20,000 invading miners within ten days. Brazil’s Vice President pledges to back the plan.- That eviction must stay in effect until the danger to the Yanomami of the pandemic passes. There have so far been five Yanomami deaths due to the disease and 168 confirmed cases. More are expected.- The invasion has also resulted in violent clashes between miners and indigenous people. In mid-June two Yanomami were killed in a conflict, evoking fears of a replay of retaliatory violence that occurred in the 1990s. In response to the current crisis, the Yanomami have launched their “Miners Out, Covid Out” campaign.
Gold priced at $1,700 per ounce brings new gold rush to Brazilian Amazon
- Global instability brought on by the Coronavirus and the meltdown of the world economy has sent gold prices soaring to US$1,700 per ounce, their highest value in 10 years. That surge has triggered a new, intensified gold rush in the Brazilian Amazon as entrepreneurs invest in expensive equipment and cheap labor.- While some Amazon gold mining is legally permitted, much isn’t. The lucrative, unpoliced industry is causing deforestation, river destruction, mercury contamination (the element used in gold ore processing), and an invasion by hundreds of thousands of miners who could spread COVID-19 to the region.- Despite being an illegal activity, large gold mining dredges operate openly in Porto Velho, the capital of Rondônia state. Our Mongabay reporting team followed the daily lives of a dredge-owning entrepreneur and his crew of garimpeiros as they searched for the precious metal in the waters of the Madeira River.
‘Betting on impunity’: Brazilian Amazon under attack despite logging crackdown
- In mid-May, government agents raided 700 hectares of land being deforested illegally in the Querência municipality of Mato Grosso. However, local sources say that deforestation resumed shortly after the intervention. Satellite imagery shows tree cover loss continuing between late May and early June.- The affected area lies right across the river from the Wawi Indigenous Territory. Human rights advocates say the deforestation could have a big impact on communities inside the reserve by affecting water sources and introducing COVID-19 to vulnerable populations.- Brazil’s Ministry of Defense touted what it described as the “extensive results” of the government’s various crackdowns around the Amazon during a one-month effort against illegal logging in May.- However, critics say occasional interventions like the May raid in Querência aren’t an effective deterrent against illegal logging and that the Bolsonaro government’s stripping of environmental protections is making it easy for loggers to continue deforesting.
World Rainforest Day: The world’s great rainforests
- June 22 is World Rainforest Day, which is a “collaborative effort to raise awareness and encourage action to protect the world’s rainforests”, according to Rainforest Partnership, which founded the event.- In recognition of World Rainforest Day, this post highlights the world’s ten largest tropical rainforests: the Amazon, the Congo, New Guinea and Australia, Sundaland, Indo-Burma, Mesoamerica, Wallacea, the Guinean Forests of West Africa, the Atlantic forest, and the Choco.- Tropical rainforests have an outsized role in the world, containing the highest concentration of species, storing more carbon in aggregate than any other terrestrial ecosystem, and supporting most of the planet’s “uncontacted” peoples.- Despite their importance however, deforestation in the world’s tropical forests has remained persistently high since the 1980s. Primary tropical forests have been destroyed at a rate of 3.2 million hectares a year since 2002.
COVID-19 and rainforest fires set up potential public health crisis
- Peaking fires in the world’s rainforests combined with the global COVID-19 pandemic threaten to create a devastating public health crisis, experts warn.- The fires typically follow recent deforestation, as farmers and ranchers burn brush and trees to make way for crops and livestock.- Soot from the fires causes severe respiratory problems and exacerbates existing conditions, health researchers say. The uptick in the need for treatment could overwhelm already-strained hospitals in the Amazon and Southeast Asia.- Researchers say that solutions exist, involving government enforcement, consumer demand for deforestation-free products, and company commitments to halt the destruction of forests. Now what’s needed is political will.
14 straight months of rising Amazon deforestation in Brazil
- Deforestation in Earth’s largest rainforest increased for the fourteenth consecutive month according to data released today by the Brazilian government.- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is currently pacing 83% ahead of where it was a year ago.- The high level of deforestation through the first few months of 2020 means the year is shaping up to have a bad fire season.- The rise in deforestation troubles scientists who fear that the combination of forest loss and the effects of climate change could trigger the Amazon rainforest to tip toward a drier ecosystem.
Amazon poor go hungry as Brazil slashes social safety net, cuts forests: Study
- Living along the rivers of the Amazon rainforest, many imagine, would make for a sustainable diet packed full of freshwater fish. But a recent study finds this is not the case. A combination of interacting factors is now causing many poor families in riverine communities to go hungry.- Researchers found that Amazon fish catch rates are naturally 73% lower in the highwater season. In the past, this lull was supplemented by hunting. But Brazilian deforestation, increased under former Pres. Michel Temer and now under Pres. Jair Bolsonaro, has replaced biodiverse forests with soy and other kinds of plantations.- Add to this Bolsonaro’s and Temer’s rapid deconstruction of internationally-lauded social welfare programs, implemented by Presidents Lula and Rousseff and their Workers’ Party, which fed many riverine families when fish catches dropped.- Figure in climate change too: its deep droughts harm forest and river diversity, while extreme floods keep stream levels high and fish catches low, and for longer. Now, COVID-19 has come to the Amazon, with food shopping trips made from rural riverine settlements to cities now requiring a serious element of risk.
Brazil revises deforestation data: Amazon rainforest loss topped 10,000 sq km in 2019
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surpassed 10,000 square kilometers in 2019, the first time forest clearing in Earth’s largest rainforest has topped that mark since 2008, according to revised data from Brazil’s national space research institute INPE.- INPE says that 10,129 square kilometers of forest were cleared across the “Legal Amazon” between August 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019. That’s 3.8% higher than the preliminary estimate the government provided in November.- Forest loss in 2020 is pacing well ahead of last year’s rate according to INPE’s short-term deforestation alert system.
Brazilian government taken to court for assault on environment, climate
- The Bolsonaro government has waged an aggressive campaign to negate Brazil’s environmental laws and de-tooth its environmental protection agencies — even as deforestation rates have reached a ten year high and violence by land grabbers and illegal loggers against indigenous and traditional peoples has grown rapidly.- In an attempt to stall the systematic deregulation, defunding and firings, socio-environmental NGOs, public prosecutors and opposition political parties have launched three lawsuits, targeting actions taken by Environment Minister Ricardo Salles and Eduardo Bim, president of IBAMA, the country’s environmental agency.- The first suit aims to annul a recent measure signed by Bim, enabling illegally harvested Brazilian timber to be exported more easily to the U.S., EU and elsewhere. Evidence allegedly demonstrates a cozy and corrupt relationship between Bim and the forestry industry.- The second and third suits address Amazon deforestation (demanding reactivation of the administration of the R$1.5 billion Amazon Fund) and climate change (requiring the reinstatement of administration of the R$8.5 million Climate Fund). Both these effective programs have been derailed by the Bolsonaro government.
How much rainforest is being destroyed?
- In December 2019, Mongabay published a review of decade in tropical forests. The analysis wasn’t fully complete because forest loss data for 2019 hadn’t yet been released.- Last week, the University of Maryland (UMD) and World Resources Institute (WRI) published the 2019 data, which showed that 3.75 million hectares of primary forest were cleared during the year.- That brings the total tropical primary forest loss since 2002 to 60 million hectares, an area larger than the combined land mass of the states of California and Missouri.- However the 2019 numbers may not capture the full extent of loss due to the extent of deforestation that occurred in the Amazon during the later part of the year.