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-Jan-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 meat giant JBS expands its reach in China
- Brazilian meatpacker JBS has agreed to supply WH Group, a Hong Kong-based meat processor with access to retail outlets across China, with beef, pork and poultry products worth around $687 million a year beginning in 2020.- Investigations have shown that JBS sources some of its beef from producers who have been fined for illegal deforestation in the Amazon.- The push for cattle pasture drives most of the deforestation in the Amazon, while soybean plantations to supply pig and chicken feed have replaced large tracts of the wooded savannas of the Cerrado.
Pope makes impassioned plea to save the Amazon — will the world listen?
- In a 94-page document entitled “Querida Amazonia” (Dear Amazon), Pope Francis has made an impassioned plea for world leaders, transnational companies, and people everywhere to step up and protect the Amazon rainforest along with the indigenous people who live there and are its best stewards.- The Amazon is seeing rapid deforestation in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia, while violence against indigenous people is rising. Scientists say climate change and deforestation are forcing a forest-to-savanna tipping point, which could lead to a massive tree die-off, the release of huge amounts of CO2, and global climate catastrophe.- “We are water, air, earth and life of the environment created by God,” Pope Francis writes in Dear Amazon. “For this reason, we demand an end to the mistreatment and destruction of mother Earth. The land has blood, and it is bleeding; the multinationals have cut the veins of our mother Earth.”- Faith leaders applauded the pope: “Care for creation and… social justice for indigenous peoples and forest communities are part of one moral fabric,” said Joe Corcoran of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative. But most media ignored the pope’s message, focusing instead on his verdict disallowing Amazon priests from marrying.
Early deforestation numbers for 2019 reveal trends in the Amazon
- The Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project, or MAAP, an initiative of the nonprofit organization Amazon Conservation, has published its analysis of preliminary deforestation data for the Amazon in 2019.- The figures project that deforestation in 2019 tapered, if slightly, or held relatively steady in four of the five Amazon countries included in the study.- Bolivia’s loss of forest in 2019 rose in comparison with 2018, likely as a result of widespread fires that burned standing forest.- The researchers used early-warning alerts of tree cover loss in 2019 to estimate total deforestation in the five countries and then compared the figures with historical rates going back to 2001.
Deforestation in Brazil continues torrid pace into 2020
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon continues to rise, according to data from Brazil’s national space research institute INPE.- NPE’s deforestation alert system DETER shows that deforestation during January 2020 amounted to 284 square kilometers (110 square miles), an area 83 times the size of New York’s Central Park. The loss is more than twice that registered in January 2019.- January’s numbers put deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon over 9,000 sq km for the past 12 months, an 85% increase over a year ago.- The various data points suggest that forest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon is currently pacing about double last year’s rate.
Bolsonaro sends Congress bill to open indigenous lands to mining, fossil fuels
- President Jair Bolsonaro has long pledged to open Brazil’s indigenous reserves in the Amazon and elsewhere to commercial mining, oil and gas exploration, cattle ranching and agribusiness, new hydroelectric dam projects, and tourism. This week he sent a bill to Congress that would do just that.- And while the legislation would allow consultation with impacted indigenous populations, they would lack the power of veto, except in cases of “garimpo” or wildcat mining. Though the bancada ruralista agribusiness lobby is strong in Congress, it remains to be seen whether the bill will be approved.- The legislation would also allow the use of GM, genetically modified, seeds in agricultural projects, a practice previously banned because of the danger of contaminating native seeds. Royalties would be paid to indigenous communities for the economic activities allowed in their reserves and communities.- Bolsonaro called his project a “dream” but it has already met with withering criticism from indigenous organizations who see it as a nightmare. Apib, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples, called it a ‘death project’ which would, under the mask of false good intentions, effectively authorize the invasion of their lands
Carbon uptake slower than expected in Amazon secondary forest: Study
- A secondary forest in a portion of the Brazilian Amazon takes up carbon at only about twice the rate of primary forest, as compared to carbon accumulation at up to 11 times in other parts of the world; that could be bad news if similar findings are confirmed elsewhere in the Amazon and the tropics, according to scientists.- The Bragantina region of Pará state where the study occurred has been used agriculturally for hundreds of years, until today, almost no primary forest remains. It is unlikely these degraded forests will return to their original levels of carbon storage and biodiversity on “politically meaningful timescales,” the researchers said.- The results indicate that future researchers should be more cautious in estimating the absorption capacity of atmospheric carbon by regenerating tropical forests to mitigate the impacts of climate change, as that capacity is variable depending on multiple factors and may be overestimated.- The findings could also put in doubt Brazil’s plan to meet its Paris Climate Agreement carbon reduction pledges by replanting forest. The nation promises to restore 12 million hectares of forest by 2030. But the actual carbon storage value of these new secondary forests, including tree plantations, could be far lower than expected.
Upset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)
- Satellites reveal the true story of the 2019 Brazilian Amazon fires, and how to avoid a repeat in 2020.- The common media narrative, and resulting public perception, is that large uncontrolled fires were raging through the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, causing vast destruction and deforestation. Subsequent analysis of extensive satellite imagery archives, however, has quietly revealed the opposite scenario: many of the fires were actually burning the remains of areas that were recently deforested.- That is, the recent deforestation surge fueled the 2019 Brazilian Amazon fires. The fires were in fact a lagging indicator of recent deforestation. Such information provides a much more focused target for the world’s outcry and related policy actions than just focusing on the fires alone.- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
Success of Microsoft’s ‘moonshot’ climate pledge hinges on forest conservation
- One mechanism by which the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement incentivizes greenhouse gas reductions is via carbon offsets, payments that compensate nations, states and private landowners who agree to keep forests intact in order to preserve carbon storage capacity and biodiversity.- But problems exist with forest carbon offset initiatives: corrupt landowners, lack of carbon accounting transparency, and low carbon pricing have caused wariness among investors, and failed to spur forest preservation.- Now, in a landmark move, Microsoft has pledged to go “carbon negative” by 2030, and erase all the company’s greenhouse gas emissions back to its founding in 1975 by 2050. A big part of achieving that goal will come via the carbon storage provided by verified global forest conservation and reforestation projects around the globe.- To achieve its goal, Microsoft has teamed with Pachama, a Silicon Valley startup, that seeks to accurately track forest carbon stocks in projects in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon, the U.S. and elsewhere using groundbreaking advanced remote-sensing technology including LiDAR, artificial intelligence and satellite imaging.
Use it, don’t lose it: Q&A with Amazon eco scientist Marcelino Guedes
- In an exclusive interview with Mongabay, Marcelino Guedes, a researcher at Brazil’s Amapá Federal University, talks about how important the management of traditional knowledge is for strengthening the forest economy in Brazil to overcome the paradigm that sees standing forest as an enemy of development.- “Human practices can be managed to become the basis for conservation in Amazonia,” he says. Countering the idea that forests must be maintained in their virgin state, he says the rational use of a forest’s resources is the best way to create an effective conservation dynamic, considering the many pressures the region is undergoing.- Guedes cites the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis, which holds that small changes to the environment are crucial for increasing biodiversity. These disturbances can be natural, as in the case of a storm, or caused by humans, which is the case of the indigenous peoples of Amazonia, who have, over the last 5,000 years, been modifying and enriching the landscape through itinerant agriculture and dispersal of native species.
Indigenous, protected lands in Amazon emit far less carbon than areas outside
- A new study calculates the gains and losses in carbon across the Amazon rainforest from deforestation as well as human-caused and naturally occurring degradation of the forest.- The team found that around 70% of the total carbon emitted from the Amazon between 2003 and 2016 came from areas outside indigenous-held lands and protected areas, despite the fact that these outside areas made up less than half of the total land area.- The researchers argue that their findings make the case for supporting indigenous communities with “political protection and financial support” to protect carbon stocks in the Amazon necessary to address climate change.