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|
Brazil reports lower deforestation, higher fires in September
- Brazil’s national space research institute INPE reported a third straight monthly drop in Amazon deforestation in September, but its data also showed a sharp increase in the area affect by fires.- According to INPE’s deforestation alert system, deforestation in the “legal Amazon” during the month of September amounted to 964 square kilometers, down 34% from September 2019. That follows a 27% decline in July and a 21% decline in August relative to a year ago when deforestation in the region hit the highest level since 2008.- However the reported decline in recent months does not match the trend reported by Imazon, an independent NGO, which reported increases of more than 30% in July and August, but hasn’t published September analysis yet. The discrepancy could be due to the different methodologies used by the two systems, though normally INPE and Imazon’s data show strong correlation.- Since January, INPE has reported more than 7,000 square kilometers of deforestation in the Amazon, down 10% from the same period last year, but the second highest on record since 2008.
Mining covers more than 20% of Indigenous territory in the Amazon
- A new report from the World Resources Institute and the Amazon Geo-Referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network reveals that mining has impacted more than 20% of the Amazon’s Indigenous territory.- The analysis shows that deforestation rates are as much as three times higher on Indigenous lands with mining compared to those without.- The study’s authors suggest that improved law enforcement, greater investment in Indigenous communities and stricter environmental protections are necessary to combat the surge of mining in the Amazon.
In a drier Amazon, small farmers and researchers work together to reduce fire damage
- Traditional Amazonian communities have used fire for centuries to open up small farming plots in a rotational system that allows the forest to regenerate and biodiversity to be preserved.- By contrast, the fires used to clear livestock pasture or to clear away vegetation after forest clearing tend to burn uncontrolled and permanently destroy vast swaths of the rainforest.- With the climate crisis rendering the forest drier and more flammable, villagers living alongside the Tapajós River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon, have had increasing difficulty maintaining their traditional fire management practice.- Traditional safeguards such as creating fire breaks can help, but a project in the Brazilian state of Pará is bringing residents and researchers together to both create a fire warning and prediction system and transition away from the use of fire for farming.
The Amazon savanna? Rainforest teeters on the brink as climate heats up
- A new study has found that 40% of the Amazon is at risk of turning into savanna due to decreases in rainfall.- The paper’s authors used satellite data, climate simulations and hydrological models to better understand the dynamics of rainfall across the tropics and their impacts on the stability of tropical forest ecosystems.- The team’s simulations suggest that sustained high greenhouse gas emissions through the end of the century could shrink the minimum size of the Amazon by 66%.
The murky process of licensing Amazonian meat plants
- Decades of growth in cattle ranching have meant that Pará is now the state with the largest herd nationwide. At 20.6 million heads, it has 2.5 cattle for every human inhabitant.- 14 of the 22 Brazilian meat plants approved to export to China since 2019 are in the Amazon.
Stock indices let Brazil meatpackers shed ties to deforestation, draw investors
- The prominent placement of Brazil’s three biggest meatpackers — JBS, Marfrig and Minerva — on the country’s stock exchange indices has seen them net $121 million in investments.- These investments are made through funds that track the various stock exchange indices, whose makeup is ostensibly determined by a company’s performance and management.- These meatpackers, whose operations are closely associated with deforestation and land grabbing in the Amazon, receive investments even through funds geared toward environmentally and socially responsible companies.
Forest degradation outpaces deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon: Study
- Brazilian Amazon deforestation rates have declined from, and stayed below, their 2003 peak, despite recent increases. However, this decline was offset by a trend of increased forest degradation, according to an analysis of 23 years of satellite data. By 2014, the rate of degradation overtook deforestation, driven by increases in logging and understory burning.- During the 1992-2014 study period, 337,427 square kilometers suffered a loss of vegetation, compared to 308,311 square kilometers completely cleared, a finding that has serious implications for global greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.- Forest degradation has been connected to outbreaks of infectious diseases as a result of increased contact between humans and displaced wildlife. Degradation can also facilitate the emergence of new diseases and some experts warn that the Amazon could be the source of the next pandemic.- These findings could have major implications for Brazilian national commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as international agreements and initiatives such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and REDD+, which rely on forest degradation monitoring.
Alcoa vs. the Amazon: How the ribeirinhos won their collective land rights
- In 2009, communities of ribeirinhos (traditional riverine settlers) launched a major land rights protest in the Amazon against Alcoa, the transnational mining company. Their action led to an agreement that proved decisive not only for the ribeirinhos, but for collective land rights activists across Brazil.- Alcoa came to Juruti, Pará state, Brazil in 2000 with big plans to mine for bauxite. At first, the 44 communities on the south bank of the Amazon River, made up of Indigenous and traditional peoples, supported the plan, hoping it would bring jobs and prosperity.- But land rights organizers argued the mine would be a disaster for the environment, traditional livelihoods and culture. Attempts to block the mine failed. But efforts to get collective land rights recognized, along with financial compensation, were successful.- The government granted full collective land rights, and Alcoa agreed to pay rent for occupying community land, compensate for losses and damages, and give locals an annual share in mine profits. Land rights activists have pursued similar goals — with varying success — in the Amazon ever since.
Could disruptions in meat supply relieve pressure on the Amazon? (commentary)
- Ranching and beef production have put great pressure on the Brazilian Amazon, resulting in significant deforestation which harms biodiversity, could add to the destabilization of the global climate, and even lead to future pandemics. While much Brazilian meat is consumed domestically, a large portion is exported to China.- With the pandemic raging out of control in Brazil, meat plants have become viral “hot spots” and helped to spread COVID-19 in several places around the country. Meanwhile, the global pandemic has, for a variety of reasons, now reduced meat consumption in both Brazil and China.- Meat and dairy are responsible for public health problems and for 18% of global greenhouse emissions, so any reduction in consumption could be good for the health of the planet. Though the pandemic has led to untold human suffering, could cratering demand for meat lead to a new environmental consciousness?- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Brazil moves toward transfer of deforestation and fire monitoring to military
- In a recent announcement, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão defended the creation of a new agency that would have full authority over Amazon deforestation and fire monitoring satellite alerts. For three decades, INPE, Brazil’s civilian space agency, has held that role, making data publicly available.- The VP claims INPE satellite monitoring is outdated and doesn’t see through clouds. Critics of the government note that the space institute’s Prodes and Deter systems continue to provide excellent data on Amazon fires and deforestation, usable for enforcement, while clouds matter little in the dry season when most fires occur.- Critics contend that multiple moves by the government to disempower INPE are likely ways of denying transparency, ending INPE’s civil authority, and placing deforestation and fire monitoring satellites under secretive military control.- So far, an effort to fund new military satellites has failed. Meanwhile, Norway has partnered with the companies Planet and Airbus to offer free satellite images for monitoring tropical forests including the Amazon. Such publicly available images from Planet, NASA and other sources could thwart Bolsonaro’s possible attempt at secrecy.