Brazil's forests

By Rhett A. Butler [Last update August 14, 2020]

Brazil holds about one-third of the world's remaining primary tropical rainforests, including about 60% the Amazon rainforest. Terrestrially speaking, it is also the most biodiverse country on Earth, with more than 34,000 described species of plants, 1,813 species of birds, 1,022 amphibians, 648 mammals, and 814 reptiles.

About 80% of Brazil's tropical forest cover is found in the Amazon Basin, a mosaic of ecosystems and vegetation types including rainforests (the vast majority), seasonal forests, deciduous forests, flooded forests, and savannas, including the woody cerrado. This region has experienced an exceptional extent of forest loss over the past two generations—an area exceeding 760,000 square kilometers, or about 19 percent of its total surface area of 4 million square kilometers, has been cleared in the Amazon since 1970, when only 2.4 percent of the Amazon's forests had been lost. The increase in Amazon deforestation in the early 1970s coincided with the construction of the Trans-Amazonian Highway, which opened large forest areas to development by settlers and commercial interests. In more recent years, growing populations in the Amazon region, combined with increased viability of agricultural operations, have caused a further rise in deforestation rates.

Natural forest in the Brazilian Amazon (Amazonia) by year

This data excludes extensive areas degraded by fires and selective logging, nor forest regrowth, which by one Brazilian government estimate occurs on about 20% of deforested areas. The area of Amazon forest degraded each year in Brazil is thought to be roughly equivalent to the amount of forest cleared. Forest degradation is significant because degraded forests are more likely to be cleared in the future. Degraded forest is also more susceptible to fires.

Why is the Amazon rainforest disappearing?

Historically the majority of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was the product of subsistence farmers, but in recent decades this has changed, with a greater proportion of forest clearing driven by large landowners and corporations. The majority of deforestation in the region can be attributed to land clearing for pasture by commercial and speculative interests.

In the early phase of this transition, Brazilian deforestation was strongly correlated to the economic health of the country: the decline in deforestation from 1988-1991 nicely matched the economic slowdown during the same period, while the rocketing rate of deforestation from 1993-1998 paralleled Brazil's period of rapid economic growth. During lean times, ranchers and developers do not have the cash to expand their pasturelands and operations, while the government lacks the budget flexibility to underwrite highways and colonization programs and grant tax breaks and subsidies to agribusiness, logging, and mining interests.

But this dynamic shifted in the mid-2000s, when the link between deforestation and the broader Brazilian economy began to wane. Between 2004 and 2012 the annual rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell 80% to the lowest levels recorded since annual record keeping began in the late 1980s. This decline occurred at the same time that Brazil's economy expanded 40 percent and agricultural output surged.

Tree cover loss and primary forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon according to analysis of satellite data by Hansen et al 2020
Comparison of data on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, 2001-2019, between official Brazilian government data and Hansen et al 2020.

Why did Amazon deforestation decline?

There are several reasons commonly cited for the decline in Brazil's deforestation rate between 2004 and 2012.

One of the most important active measures was the launch of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon (PPCDAm) in 2004. PPCDAm aimed to reduce deforestation rates continuously and facilitate conditions that support a transition towards a sustainable economic development model in the region. PPCDAm had three main components: land tenure and spatial planning, environmental monitoring and control, and supporting sustainable production.

These components resulted in increased enforcement of environmental laws; improved forest monitoring by satellite, which enabled law enforcement to take action; new incentives for utilizing already deforested lands; and expanded protected areas and indigenous reserves. A byproduct of PPCDAm was heightened sensitivity to environmental criticism among private sector companies and emerging awareness of the values of ecosystem services afforded by the Amazon.

Other factors also played a part in the decline in deforestation, including macroeconomic trends like a stronger Brazilian currency, which reduced the profitability of export-driven agriculture; prioritization of non-rainforest areas like the adjacent cerrado ecosystem for agribusiness expansion; and increased diversification in the Brazilian economy as a whole.

Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Why has progress in reducing Amazon deforestation stalled?

Progress in reducing deforestation stalled after 2012 and forest loss has been trending upward since. There is debate over why this is the case, but some researchers argue that Brazil achieved about as much as it could through law enforcement and other punitive measures ("the stick" in the proverbial "the carrot and stick" approach). Reducing deforestation further requires sufficient economic incentives ("the carrot") to maintain forests as healthy and productive ecosystems. Put another way, standing forest needs to be made more valuable than clearing it for pasture or crops.

By that line of thought, the political impetus for reducing deforestation began to wane as ranchers, farmers, investors, and land speculators grew tried of fines, threats of legal action, and prohibitions against clearing. Political movements like the ruralistas pushed harder for relation of environmental laws and amnesty for past transgressions. These interests gained momentum when the Temer administration came to power in 2016 and won more clout with the election of Jair Bolsonaro in late 2018. Bolsonaro, who campaigned on the promise to open the Amazon to extractive industries and agribusiness while disparaging environmentalists and indigenous peoples, immediately set about dismantling protections for the Amazon when he took office in January 2019. Deforestation increased sharply thereafter.

Causes of deforestation in the Amazon

In evaluating deforestation in the Amazon, it is important to understand both direct and indirect drivers of forest loss.

Direct drivers of deforestation including conversion of forests for pasture, farmland, and plantations, as well as surface mining, dams that inundate forested areas, and intense fires.

Indirect drivers of deforestation include more subtle factors, like insecure land tenure, corruption, poor law enforcement, infrastructure projects, policies that favor conversion over conservation, and selective logging that create conditions or enable activities that facilitate forest clearing.

Pie chart showing drivers of deforestation in the Amazon
Causes of deforestation in the Amazon, 2001-2013 Share of direct deforestation
Cattle ranching63%
Small-scale agriculture
Includes both subsistence and commercial
12%
Fires
Sub-canopy fires often result in degradation, not deforestation
9%
Agriculture
Large-scale industrial agriculture like soy and plantations
8%
Logging
Selective logging commonly results in degradation, not deforestation
6%
Other
Mining, urbanization, road construction, dams, etc.
2%

 

Cattle ranching

Conversion of rainforest for cattle pasture is the single largest driver of deforestation in Brazil. Clearing forest for pasture is the cheapest and easiest way to establish an informal claim to land, which can then be sold on to other parties at a profit. In some parts of the Brazilian Amazon, cleared rainforest land can be worth more than eight times that of land with standing forest. According, cattle ranching is often viewed as a way to speculate on appreciating land prices.

However since 2000, cattle ranching in the Amazon has become increasingly industrialized, meaning that more ranchers are producing cattle to sell commercially. Most of the beef ends up in the domestic market, but secondary products like hides and leather are often exported.

These exports left Brazilian cattle ranchers exposed in the late 2000s when Greenpeace launched a high profile campaign against companies that were sourcing leather and other products from major Brazilian cattle processors. That campaign led major companies to demand zero deforestation cattle. Combined with a crackdown by public prosecutors, the Brazilian cattle industry started to shift substantially toward less damaging practices in late 2009 by signing the "Cattle Agreement", which barred the sourcing of cattle from illegally deforested areas.

However by the mid-2010s investigations revealed that some major cattle producers were circumventing the safeguards established under the Cattle Agreement by laundering cattle through third party ranches. Unlike soy (see below), cattle are highly mobile, making it easy for ranchers to shift livestock clandestinely.

Deforestation for soy in the Brazilian Amazon. The isolated tree is a Brazil nut. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Soy

The model for the Brazilian cattle industry to move toward zero deforestation came from the country's soy industry, which underwent a similar transformation three years earlier. That shift was also initiative by a Greenpeace campaign, which targeted the soy-based chicken feed used by McDonald's in Europe. Within months of that campaign's launch, the largest soy crushers and traders in the Amazon had established a moratorium on buying soy produced via deforestation in the Amazon.

Timber

Logging in the Brazilian Amazon remains plagued by poor management, destructive practices, and outright fraud. Vast areas of rainforest are logged -- legally and illegally -- each year. According to government sources and NGOs, the vast majority of logging in the Brazilian Amazon is illegal.

Palm oil

At present, Amazon palm oil is not a major driver of deforestation in Brazil. While there are concerns that it could eventually exacerbate deforestation, there is also a chance that it could replace degraded cattle pasture, boosting economic productivity at a low environmental cost.

Dams, roads, and other infrastructure projects

Brazil's infrastructure spree from the late-2000s to mid-2010s was interrupted by the corruption scandals of the mid-2010s. Many of the scores of dams being built across the Amazon basin were put on hold following the Lava Jato scandal that ensnared senior politicians in several countries and executives at the infrastructure giant Odebrecht. Yet the scandals also helped usher in the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, which reinvigorated the push to build roads, dams, and mines in the Amazon.

Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Conservation in Brazil

While Brazil may be better known for losing its forests, during the 2000s it easily led the world in establishing new protected areas. Those gains were consolidated in 2014, when donors established a trust fund that will underwrite the country's protected areas system through 2039.

Beyond strict protected areas, more than a fifth of the Brazilian Amazon lies within indigenous reservations, which research has shown reduce deforestation even more effectively than national parks. Overall nearly half the Brazilian Amazon is under some form of protection.

Brazil's other forests

While the Amazon rainforest is Brazil's most famous forest, the country also has other types of forest.

The Mata Atlântica or Atlantic Forest is a drier tropical forest that lies along the coast and inland areas to the south of the Amazon. It has been greatly reduced by conversion to agriculture -- especially sugar cane and cattle pasture -- and urbanization. The Mata Atlântica is arguably Brazil's most threatened forest.

Forest loss in Brazil's Mata Atlantica according to National Space Research Institute, INPE

The Pantanal is an inland wetland that borders Paraguay and Bolivia and covers an area of 154,884 square kilometers. It includes a mosaic of forests and flooded grasslands.

The cerrado biome is a tropical grassland that covers 1.9 square kilometers, or approximately 22 percent of the country. It is being rapidly destroyed for agriculture.

The chaco biome is a dry forest ecosystem that extends into Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina.

Brazil's tropical forests

Primary forest extentTree cover extent
StateDominant forest biome20012020% losss20012020% losss
AcreAmazon13,505,69012,583,4186.8%14312070134293788.1%
AlagoasAtlantic forest35,53734,9331.7%57551851079211.4%
AmapáAmazon10,934,64510,792,2681.3%12172480121887352.5%
AmazonasAmazon143,485,183141,217,4831.6%1505680051482690452.0%
BahiaAtlantic forest1,297,7021,187,3478.5%187766221518773716.5%
CearáAtlantic forest74,39572,5012.5%2974477280712710.0%
Espírito SantoAtlantic forest128,492124,4063.2%1813455167559918.8%
GoiásAtlantic forest / Cerrado388,506328,32915.5%7736542680816313.3%
MaranhãoAmazon3,185,7322,483,15322.1%210154431639155623.0%
Mato GrossoAmazon / Cerrado / Chaco39,009,64531,696,95318.7%563962284616815018.7%
Mato Grosso do SulAtlantic forest / Cerrado1,489,0951,356,7178.9%10191243876195312.6%
Minas GeraisAtlantic forest / Cerrado268,244258,6883.6%183574221745008214.0%
ParáAmazon92,225,89683,576,9739.4%1079637179701346412.4%
ParaíbaAtlantic forest23,76423,5121.1%11214826632639.6%
ParanáAtlantic forest1,044,8811,020,2532.4%7947474734017014.1%
PernambucoAtlantic forest42,72741,0014.0%1563136125875910.7%
PiauíCaatinga141,286139,7851.1%11538381930006310.3%
Rio de JaneiroAtlantic forest587,724581,3631.1%180539817379223.8%
Rio Grande do NorteAtlantic forest7,3217,2870.5%90943249110611.0%
Rio Grande do SulAtlantic forest / Cerrado24,16624,1460.1%763611273936658.1%
RondôniaAmazon15,649,57812,470,56320.3%184855791490877921.7%
RoraimaAmazon15,425,75914,683,7384.8%17889964170758365.7%
Santa CatarinaAtlantic forest1,205,5901,176,0142.5%6354636603158012.2%
São PauloAtlantic forest1,837,3211,817,0951.1%6560955646900412.1%
SergipeAtlantic forest17,94016,6707.1%54359139572221.5%
TocantinsAmazon / Cerrado1,194,996995,67116.7%11162164845997216.1%

 

Recent news on Brazil's tropical forests

Pasture replaces large tract of intact primary forest in Brazilian protected area (May 13 2022)
- Satellites have detected forest clearing within the Triunfo do Xingu Environmental Protection Area (APA) this year, a legally protected area of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
- Despite its status, 35% of the primary (or old-growth) forest within the APA was lost between 2006 and 2021, making it one of the most deforested slices of the Brazilian Amazon.
- The APA was created in 2006 to serve as a buffer for vulnerable surrounding areas, such as the Apyterewa Indigenous Territory and the massive Terra do Meio Ecological Station, but deforestation has spilled over into both.
- Deforestation in the region is largely driven by cattle ranching, but land grabbing and mining have also increased in recent years, with invaders emboldened by the rhetoric and policies of the current government.

In Brazilian Amazon, Indigenous lands stop deforestation and boost recovery (May 13 2022)
- A new study has confirmed that the best-preserved, and recovering, parts of the Brazilian Amazon are those managed by traditional communities or inside conservation units.
- Between 2005 and 2012, deforestation rates were 17 times lower in Indigenous territories than in unprotected areas of the Amazon; in conservation units and lands managed by Quilombolas, the descendants of runaway Afro-Brazilian slaves, deforestation rates were about six times lower than in unprotected areas.
- The study also shows that officially recognized Indigenous and Quilombola territories saw forest regrowth at rates two and three times higher, respectively, than in unprotected areas.
- But the process of officially recognizing Indigenous lands has stalled under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, which is instead pushing legislation that would open up Indigenous territories to mining and other exploitative activities.

Amazon deforestation surges in April (May 6 2022)
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon exceeded 1,000 square kilometers in April, the highest total since 2008 and roughly twice the level of April 2021, according to data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE.
- The loss — which only accounts for the first 29 days of the month — put deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon through the first four months of 2022 at 1,953 square kilometers as the region heads into the peak deforestation season.
- Last year deforestation topped 13,000 square kilometers for the first time since 2006.
- Scientists have warned that the Amazon may be approaching a tipping point where vast areas of rainforest transition to a woody savanna.

A new index measures the human impacts on Amazon waters (May 5 2022)
- Based on the best scientific data available, the unprecedented Amazon Water Impact Index draws together monitoring and research data to identify the most vulnerable areas of the Brazilian Amazon.
- According to the index, 20% of the 11,216 Brazilian Amazon micro basins have an impact considered high, very high or extreme; half of these watersheds are affected by hydroelectric plants.
- The same index points out that 323 of the 385 Indigenous Lands in the Brazilian Amazon face a medium to low impact, which demonstrates the fundamental role of these areas in protecting the aquatic ecosystems of the Amazon.
- The Amazon River Basin covers 7 million square kilometers (2.7 million square miles) and contains 20% of all freshwater on the Earth’s surface; still, little is known about the impacts of increased human activity on aquatic ecosystems.

Putin’s financial interest in Brazil’s Amazon highways (commentary) (May 4 2022)
- Rosneft, a giant Russian government oil and gas company, has bought drilling rights to 16 blocks in the vast area of intact rainforest in the western part of Brazil’s Amazon region. A planned highway would give access directly to three of these blocks, and branch roads would be likely to be built to the other Rosneft blocks, opening the area to invasion by landgrabbers, squatters, loggers and others.
- Vladimir Putin appointed as Rosneft’s CEO a close friend who is considered to be the most powerful person in Russia after Putin himself. Putin views Rosneft as his personal property according to the exiled oligarch who had formerly been “Putin’s banker.”
- Building the BR-319 and AM-366 highways would financially benefit Putin’s associates (and either directly or indirectly Putin himself). Rosneft is capable of influencing Brazilian authorities to prioritize these highways. It is unknown what was discussed about “energy” when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro met with Putin in Moscow for three hours just before the invasion of Ukraine.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

2021 tropical forest loss figures put zero-deforestation goal by 2030 out of reach (Apr 28 2022)
- The world lost a Cuba-sized area of tropical forest in 2021, putting it far off track from meeting the no-deforestation goal by 2030 that governments and companies committed to at last year’s COP26 climate summit.
- Deforestation rates remained persistently high in Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to the world’s two biggest expanses of tropical forest, negating the decline in deforestation seen in places like Indonesia and Gabon.
- The diverging trends in the different countries show that “it’s the domestic politics of forests that often really make a key difference,” says leading forest governance expert Frances Seymour.
- The boreal forests of Eurasia and North America also experienced a spike in deforestation last year, driven mainly by massive fires in Russia, which could set off a feedback loop of more heating and more burning.

Brazil bill seeks to redraw Amazon borders in favor of agribusiness (Apr 25 2022)
- A new bill before Brazil’s Congress proposes cutting out the state of Mato Grosso from the country’s legally defined Amazon region to allow greater deforestation there for agribusiness.
- Under the bill, known as PL 337, requirements to maintain Amazonian vegetation in the state at 80% of a rural property’s area, and 35% for Cerrado vegetation, would be slashed to just 20% for both.
- The approval of the bill would allow for an increase in deforestation of at least 10 million hectares (25 million acres) — an area the size of South Korea — and exempt farmers from having to restore degraded areas on their properties.
- Environmental law specialists warn that the departure of Mato Grosso from under the administrative umbrella of the Legal Amazon would set off a domino effect encouraging the eight other states in the region to push for similar bills.

Saving old-growth forests: Q&A with Amazon Watch’s Leila Salazar-López (Apr 22 2022)
- A new documentary called “The Last Stand,” released on Earth Day 2022, goes inside the protests against the logging of the Fairy Creek old-growth forests in British Columbia, Canada.
- Leila Salazar-López, executive director of Amazon Watch, an NGO dedicated to fighting deforestation and protecting the rights of Indigenous communities in the world’s biggest rainforest, spoke in the film about the larger implications of cutting down old-growth forests.
- In an interview with Mongabay, Salazar-López talks deforestation in the Amazon, the flaws of carbon offset policies, and the important role that Indigenous and local people play in conserving the last of Earth’s old-growth forests.

Canadian miners get high-level lobbying boost for Brazilian Amazon projects (Apr 20 2022)
- Canadian bank Forbes & Manhattan appears to be aided in pushing its mining interests in Brazil thanks to lobbying efforts by an old army acquaintance of the country’s vice president.
- F&M has been trying to secure environmental licenses for two of its companies, Belo Sun and Brazil Potash, for more than 10 years; both companies’ projects have been criticized for threatening Indigenous groups and traditional riverside communities in the Amazon.
- But F&M has managed to secure several private meetings with top government officials, which all appear to feature the same individual acting in a consulting or advisory role: Cláudio Barroso Magno Filho, a retired brigadier general in the Brazilian Army.
- Barroso Magno attended the military academy alongside Hamilton Mourão, who in 2019 took office as Brazil’s vice president in the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro.

History on the walls: Graffiti brings Manaus’s Indigenous roots to light (Apr 19 2022)
- Graffiti artists are painting murals recounting the history of Indigenous people and honoring their culture in the capital of Amazonas, the Brazilian state with the largest Indigenous population.
- Indigenous community leaders say they hope the movement will increase the visibility of Indigenous people living in cities, who often face poverty, housing insecurity and stigma that discourages many from maintaining their culture and identity.
- Fearing cultural erasure, Indigenous activists are urging Indigenous people to embrace their ancestry and identify themselves as Indigenous in Brazil’s next census, expected to begin in August 2022.
- As Indigenous people in cities reclaim their identities, occupying public spaces through street art is playing a key role in the fight to make Indigenous people in urban areas more visible.

Amid extinctions, forest corridors aim to save rare birds in Brazil’s northeast (Apr 18 2022)
- A project in northeastern Brazil is working to connect fragments of the Atlantic Forest in an effort to save endemic bird species from extinction.
- The Atlantic Rainforest of the Northeast Project plans to reforest 70 hectares (173 acres) in the states of Pernambuco and Alagoas by 2023.
- Monitoring in Pernambuco’s Serra do Urubu region has shown an increase in bird diversity, from 105 species recorded in 2005, to 287 in 2021.
- Despite the progress being made, the situation remains fragile, with seven bird species having gone extinct in the Atlantic Forest in recent decades, and a strong tradition of keeping birds in cages still persisting.

Amazon deforestation dips slightly in March, but remains high (Apr 9 2022)
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon amounted to 312 sq km in March, a 15% decline over March 2021.
- Despite the drop however, deforestation for the first quarter of 2022 reached 941 square kilometers, the highest level for a first quarter since 2018.
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been trending higher since 2012.
- The Brazilian Amazon accounts for nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest.

The amazing — and unknown — diversity of insects living in the Amazon canopy (Apr 5 2022)
- A new study collected tens of thousands of insects from the rainforest canopy in the Brazilian Amazon and found that 60% of the specimens occur at a height of 8 meters (26 feet) and higher.
- Most of the species, and even entire genera, have not yet been described by science, pointing to an unfathomable richness in insect diversity in the Amazon.
- This survey differs from conventional research on insects, which are usually conducted at ground level, because it pays more attention to the vertical diversity of the forest, from the ground to the treetops.

Dams on Brazil’s Jamanxim River: The advancing assault on the environment and Indigenous peoples in the Tapajós basin (commentary) (Mar 29 2022)
- Brazil’s electrical authorities have given the go-ahead for studies to prepare for building three large Amazonian dams that would flood Indigenous lands and protected areas for biodiversity.
- The decision shows that Brazil’s presidential administration is confident that the National Congress will approve the bill submitted by President Bolsonaro to open Indigenous lands to hydroelectric dams, and probably also allow dams to continue to be built without consulting impacted Indigenous peoples.
- The decision also shows that Brazil’s electrical authorities continue to ignore inconvenient information on climate change, the financial viability of Amazonian dams and their many social and environmental impacts, as well as the country’s better energy options.
- This text is translated and expanded from the author’s column on the Amazônia Real website. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

‘Giving up’: Amazon is losing its resilience under human pressure, study shows (Mar 25 2022)
- The Amazon Rainforest is losing its ability to bounce back from repeated disturbances, according to a new study.
- Researchers found that three-quarters of the Amazon has lost some resilience, or ability to regain biomass after disturbance. This loss of resilience is especially high in regions close to human activity and with less rainfall.
- As the forest is slashed, burned and degraded, it’s left with less vegetation, which means less evapotranspiration, leading to less rain. And less rain leads to further droughts, fires, tree death and forest degradation — a feedback loop of destruction and loss of resilience.
- The lead author describes the findings as “depressing” but also says that “having an early warning of this gives us a chance to do something about it … Rather than focusing on the trajectory the Amazon is on, we can instead try and change it.”

Chinese investment in Latin America plagues people and nature: Report (Mar 24 2022)
- A report from the Collective on Chinese Financing and Investments, Human Rights and the Environment (CICDHA) lays out the impact that Chinese-funded infrastructure, energy and mining projects have had in Latin America.
- The report looked at 26 projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
- It found almost all of them contributed to deforestation and water pollution, as well as human rights violations against local and Indigenous communities.
- CICDHA’s report lays out numerous recommendations for improving the behavior of companies carrying out projects in Latin America, but expresses doubt about China’s willingness to make a good-faith attempt at improvements.

In Brazil, a forest community fights to remain on its traditional land (Mar 22 2022)
- Traditional communities living within the limits of the Jureia-Itatins Ecological Station, a formally protected area in São Paulo state, are expecting a crucial ruling to decide whether they can remain on their traditionally occupied land.
- These communities, known as Caiçaras, were established centuries ago along the southern coastline of Brazil, but the state forestry foundation, which manages the protected area, demolished the houses of some inhabitants in 2019, alleging violations of the strong restrictions on human activity it had imposed.
- The ensuing legal battle has seen the Caiçara families win a decision to be allowed to rebuild their homes, but this was overturned just days later on environmental concerns raised by the forest foundation.
- However, several studies show that the presence of these communities in conservation areas helps protect biodiversity instead of destroying it, and other Brazilian government agencies already recognize the need to work with traditional communities as the best “guardians of the forest.”

In Rio de Janeiro, a forest slowly returns to life, one species at a time (Mar 21 2022)
- Rio de Janeiro’s Tijuca National Park has become a laboratory for the reintroduction of locally extinct species.
- A study shows that, of the 33 species of large and medium-sized mammals that used to occur in the Tijuca National Park area, only 11 remain today.
- A forest full of large trees but empty of animals is a forest on its deathbed, conservationists say, because animals’ interactions with plants play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem.
- In the severely degraded and fragmented Atlantic Forest, where Tijuca is located, forests devoid of large animals such as tapirs, woolly spider monkeys and jaguars are a common phenomenon with serious consequences for the plant life.

To fight invaders, Munduruku women wield drone cameras and cellphones (Mar 15 2022)
- Three young women from the Munduruku Indigenous group in the Brazilian Amazon run an audiovisual collective that uses social media to raise awareness about illegal invasions of their territory.
- “Many people no longer believe what we say, they only believe what they see,” says Aldira Akai, who, at 30, is the oldest member of the collective.
- The Munduruku living in the Sawré Muybu Indigenous Territory say the anti-Indigenous rhetoric of the Jair Bolsonaro administration has emboldened illegal loggers and miners, and put native defenders under greater risk.
- The impact of illegal logging and mining in Sawré Muybu has seen deforestation surge to 146 hectares (361 acres) in 2020, up from 105 hectares (259 acres) the previous year.

Amazon deforestation starts 2022 on the fastest pace in 14 years (Mar 15 2022)
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is off to its fastest pace to start a year since at least 2008.
- According to data from Brazil’s national space research institute, forest clearing in the Amazon through the first two months of 2022 has amounted to 430 square kilometers (166 square miles), more than twice the average over the past ten years.
- The torrid start to the year suggests the Brazilian government is failing to rein in deforestation after a high profile pledge to do so at last year’s U.N. climate talks in Glasgow.
- The news came just days after a study published in Nature Climate Change provided more evidence that the ecological function of Earth’s largest rainforest is diminishing.