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|
BR-319 illegal side road threatens Amazon protected area, indigenous land (commentary)
- Brazil faces a critical decision on licensing Highway BR-319, in the Purus / Madeira river basins of Amazonas state, which would “chop the Amazon rainforest in half.”- The highway would bring deforesters to vast areas of intact Amazon rainforest. Protected areas along the route have been created to avert spread of deforestation.- However, an illegal side road is already being built connecting with the BR-319, and accessing one of those protected areas, while also threatening indigenous and traditional riverine communities.- The construction of this illegal road dramatizes the fiction that governance measures would control on-the-ground events if the completed highway is licensed. This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.
Qualified success: What’s next for Peru’s Operation Mercury?
- The Peruvian government’s launch of Operation Mercury to crack down on illegal mining had a burst of initial success, cutting deforestation by 92% since its kickoff in February 2019.- Concerns have surfaced that the operation would simply displace miners, forcing them to deforest new areas.- However, satellite imagery analysis published in January 2020 revealed that, while deforestation due to mining continues to be a problem in southeastern Peru, Operation Mercury has not led to a surge in forest loss adjacent to the targeted area.- The government is also investing in programs aimed at providing employment alternatives so that people don’t return to mining.
Brazil drastically reduces controls over suspicious Amazon timber exports
- Forest degradation nearly doubled in the Brazilian Amazon last year, rising from 4,946 square kilometers in 2018, to 9,167 square kilometers in 2019. Experts say this is likely due to soaring illegal timber harvesting and export under President Jair Bolsonaro.- To facilitate illegal harvesting of rare and valuable timber, like that of the Ipê tree, whose wood can sell for up to $2,500 per cubic meter at Brazilian export terminals, Bolsonaro’s environment officials have reversed regulations that formerly outlawed suspicious timber shipments, making most such exports legal.- Experts say that the relaxation of illegal export regulations not only protects the criminal syndicates cutting the trees in Amazonia, but also shields exporter Brazil, and importers in the EU, UK, US and elsewhere, preventing them from being accused of causing Amazon deforestation via their supply chains.- Activists fear overturned timber export regulations will embolden illegal loggers, who will escalate invasions onto indigenous and traditional lands, as well as within conservation units. More than 300 people were assassinated over the past decade as the result of land and natural resource conflicts in the Brazilian Amazon.
Drones in the canopy: Project aims to save the Amazon with technology
- In seeking an alternative to the develop-or-conserve dichotomy that governs policymaking over the Amazon, Brazilian scientists have come up with the Amazonia Third Way, a plan to preserve the region’s biodiversity by supercharging sustainable forestry practices with technology.- In the second half of this year, three communities in Pará state will receive the first creative laboratories — mobile units that will bring technologies such as blockchain and drones to the cocoa and cupuaçu production processes. Future laboratories will focus on Brazil nuts, acai berries, essential oils and other products.- The project will also rely on the help of business accelerators and the Rainforest Business School to support so-called bioeconomy start-ups and offer training courses for forest communities under this new development paradigm.
Oil and gas project threatens Brazil’s last great block of Amazon forest (commentary)
- The eastern part of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is already heavily deforested and degraded, but the western portion of the region (covering roughly 740,000 square kilometers; 285,000 square miles) is almost entirely intact due to the lack of road access.- The huge block of forest to the west of Highway BR-319 (a road stretching between Amazonas and Rondônia states) is essential to maintaining the region’s biodiversity, its indigenous peoples, its huge forest carbon stocks, and its role in water recycling that supplies rainfall to places like São Paulo.- Planned roads branching off Highway BR-319 would open the northern part of this vast forest block to entry by deforesters. Now a new threat is rapidly advancing: the Solimões oil and gas project that would implant thousands of wells spread over the central and southern portions of this forest block. Although not part of the official development’s preliminary environmental impact statement, future roads linking the drilling areas to the BR-319 are likely to give deforesters access to the entire area.- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
On anniversary of nun’s murder Amazon land rights activists at high risk
- Fifteen years ago this month, land rights activist and Catholic nun Dorothy Stang, “Sister Dorothy,” was brutally assassinated in Anapu municipality, Pará state, Brazil. While her death caused a loud international public outcry, and resulted in Brazil cracking down on such violence, those corrections didn’t last.- Less than 5% of the more than 550 killings that have occurred since Stang’s murder having gone to court, according to data collected by Brazil’s Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) and analyzed by Mongabay. In Pará, the state where Stang was murdered, just 6 of more than 190 land conflict murders have been judged in court.- Experts say the majority of such killings are plotted by land grabbers and powerful land owners trying to intimidate peasant farmers seeking land reform, or trying to protect their small land holdings. Local corruption in government, law enforcement and in the courts leads to few prosecutions.- Analysts fear President Jair Bolsonaro’s polices will worsen the problem. In December, he issued executive order MP 910, which critics say effectively legalizes land grabbing. The decree, supposedly benefiting smallholders, provides a pardon for past large-scale land grabbers and could embolden land grabbing in future.
Amazon Tipping Point puts Brazil’s agribusiness, energy sector at risk: Top scientists
- Scientists are sounding the alarm: the Brazilian Amazon is dangerously close to, or may already be hitting, a disastrous rainforest-to-savanna tipping point, with heightened drought driven by regional and global climate change, rapidly rising deforestation and more numerous and intense wild fires.- Overshooting the tipping point would not only be cataclysmic to Amazon biodiversity and release massive amounts of forest carbon destabilizing the planet’s climate further, it could also devastate Brazil’s economy by depriving agribusiness and hydroelectric energy production of water.- Signs of deepening drought are already evident, as are serious repercussions. The $9.5 billion Belo Monte mega-dam for example, is already seeing greatly reduced seasonal flows in the Xingu River, a trend expected to worsen, potentially making the dam economically unviable, while also threatening the proposed Belo Sun goldmine.- Reduced rainfall and a shorter growing season are also putting Brazilian agribusiness at risk. Even as scientists rush to develop heat and drought-resistant crops, many doubt new cultivars will keep pace with a changing climate. The Bolsonaro government is ignoring the economic threat posed by the tipping point
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.