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.
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.
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.
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.
|Causes of deforestation in the Amazon, 2001-2013||Share of direct deforestation|
Includes both subsistence and commercial
Sub-canopy fires often result in degradation, not deforestation
Large-scale industrial agriculture like soy and plantations
Selective logging commonly results in degradation, not deforestation
Mining, urbanization, road construction, dams, etc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 extent||Tree cover extent|
|State||Dominant forest biome||2001||2020||% losss||2001||2020||% losss|
|Espírito Santo||Atlantic forest||128,492||124,406||3.2%||1813455||1675599||18.8%|
|Goiás||Atlantic forest / Cerrado||388,506||328,329||15.5%||7736542||6808163||13.3%|
|Mato Grosso||Amazon / Cerrado / Chaco||39,009,645||31,696,953||18.7%||56396228||46168150||18.7%|
|Mato Grosso do Sul||Atlantic forest / Cerrado||1,489,095||1,356,717||8.9%||10191243||8761953||12.6%|
|Minas Gerais||Atlantic forest / Cerrado||268,244||258,688||3.6%||18357422||17450082||14.0%|
|Rio de Janeiro||Atlantic forest||587,724||581,363||1.1%||1805398||1737922||3.8%|
|Rio Grande do Norte||Atlantic forest||7,321||7,287||0.5%||909432||491106||11.0%|
|Rio Grande do Sul||Atlantic forest / Cerrado||24,166||24,146||0.1%||7636112||7393665||8.1%|
|Santa Catarina||Atlantic forest||1,205,590||1,176,014||2.5%||6354636||6031580||12.2%|
|São Paulo||Atlantic forest||1,837,321||1,817,095||1.1%||6560955||6469004||12.1%|
|Tocantins||Amazon / Cerrado||1,194,996||995,671||16.7%||11162164||8459972||16.1%|
Recent news on Brazil's tropical forests
Despite 11% drop in 2022, Amazon deforestation rate has soared under Bolsonaro (Dec 2 2022)
- An area equivalent to the size of Qatar was cleared in the Brazilian Amazon between Aug. 1, 2021, and July 31, 2022, according to data from the country’s National Space Research Institute (INPE).
- Although the figure represents an 11.27% decrease in the Amazon annual deforestation rate compared with the prior year, the government of President Bolsonaro still accounts for the most Amazon destruction in the last 34 years, environmentalists say.
- Bolsonaro’s four-year term ends with a 59.5% boom in Amazon deforestation rates, the highest in a presidential term since 1988, when measurements by satellite imagery began.
- INPE’s report, dated Nov. 3 but only released 27 days later, also triggered criticism among environmentalists, who accused the Bolsonaro’s administration of omitting the annual deforestation data until the end of the UN conference on climate change, COP27, held Nov. 6-20 in Egypt.
2022 Amazon fires tightly tied to recent deforestation, new data show (Nov 22 2022)
- Nearly 1,000 major fires burned in the Amazon during its 2022 fire season, according to the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP).
- The Brazilian Amazon accounted for the vast majority of the fires, and most burned in recently deforested areas.
- MAAP uses unique satellite data detecting aerosol emissions alongside regular heat alerts, which helps filter out small fires.
- Fires clearing logging debris are linked to soy-driven deforestation in some Brazilian Amazon areas, where many soy-trading companies have not signed zero-deforestation commitments.
In final days before Bolsonaro’s defeat, deforestation boomed in Brazil (Nov 11 2022)
- According to data published today by Brazil’s national space research agency INPE, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon amounted to 904 square kilometers in October, a 3% increase over last year.
- Year to date, INPE’s deforestation alert system has detected 9,494 square kilometers of forest clearing, 20% more than 2021.
- The figures came less than two weeks after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva narrowly defeated Jair Bolsonaro in a run off election. Lula, who presided over a sharp drop in Amazon forest deforestation during his terms in office between 2003 and 2010, made saving the Amazon a key part of his bid for the presidency.
- In contrast, Bolsonaro has overseen a steep rise in deforestation, which hit a 15-year high last year.
Why fish are disappearing from Amazonian waters (Oct 27 2022)
- From the coastline to freshwater streams, people living in Amazonia say industrial fishing, deforestation, hydroelectric dams and climate change have reduced fish populations.
- Industrial fishing is one of the main explanations for the low numbers. Fishermen report that large boats are trawling with nets up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in length that do not allow fish to reach the shore.
- Other challenges local fishers are facing have to do with the effects of climate change on rivers and mangroves, including increased temperature and lower pH and oxygen levels in the water, which make it harder for species to survive.
- Hydroelectric dams are a threat to inland Amazonian fish species because they interrupt migratory flow, leading to genetically compromised populations; this phenomenon has been seen in the Xingu River, which, dammed by the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, is suffering from falling fish reproduction rates.
To save the Amazon, scientists are listening to its rich sounds (Oct 27 2022)
- An unprecedented study is analyzing biodiversity by listening to nearly 16,000 minutes of recordings made in Carajás National Forest, a protected region in the Brazilian Amazon.
- Some 230 bird species have already been recognized in 7,000 minutes of recordings, in particular the white bellbird (Procnias albus) and the screaming piha (Lipaugus vociferans), the world’s two loudest birds; the next phase of the study will focus on identification of the mammals in the region.
- The study has found that the sound samples from 14 distinct locations are similar, and that the rainforest doesn’t ever sleep, with many animals vocalizing at night.
- The rainforest’s soundscape reveals information about its biodiversity, the ecosystem services it provides, and makes it possible to evaluate conservation and climate change mitigation measures.
Illegal agricultural project moves ahead on Brazilian Indigenous lands (Oct 19 2022)
- Marked by a fine for illegal deforestation, Agro Xavante, an initiative created with the blessing of President Bolsonaro, moves ahead with leasing public lands and a failure to conduct prior consultation with the local population.
- Called Indigenous Independence Project, the initiative determines that 80% of the net profits go to the rural producers, with the Xavante people receiving 20%.
- The very essence of the project makes it unconstitutional because, according to the Brazilian Constitution, the Indigenous peoples enjoy the exclusive use of their territories, with the sole right to the exploitation of the natural resources contained therein.
Amazon community steps in to protect a reserve the government won’t (Oct 19 2022)
- Established in 2018, the Lower Rio Branco-Jauaperi Extractive Reserve still lacks a management plan and the creation of a council with representatives of local communities.
- While the reserve exists on paper, large-scale fish poaching in the Jauaperi River has depleted a key source of food for the area’s traditional communities.
- With laws and court decisions to protect the reserve going largely ignored by the government, a local organization has taken on the task of protecting two iconic and threatened local species: the Amazon turtle and the arapaima.
Beef is still coming from protected areas in the Amazon, study shows (Oct 18 2022)
- According to a new study, 1.1 million cattle were bought directly from protected areas and another 2.2 million spent at least a portion of their lives grazing in protected areas and Indigenous territories.
- Researchers compiled public records on cattle transit, property boundaries and protected area boundaries between 2013 and 2018. The study period ended in 2018 because, “at the start of 2019, this critical information became less available,” the lead author said.
- Under Brazil’s current President Jair Bolsonaro, who was elected at the start of 2019, the country has seen policies weakening various environmental protections and monitoring agencies, and deforestation has reached its highest levels in 15 years.
- Around 70% of deforestation in the Amazon has been linked to cattle ranching. Meat producers have made commitments to stop sourcing from illegally deforested lands, but a lack of information about where cattle are grazing has allowed many companies to escape accountability.
Community study sheds light on wild cat killings in Brazil’s central Amazon (Oct 14 2022)
- Alongside other threats such as deforestation, poaching places wild felids in the Amazon at risk.
- A long-running community-based monitoring program in Brazil’s central Amazonia region identified the number of wild felids killed, motivations for hunting and more.
- Of 71 felids, jaguars were killed the most. Wild cats were predominantly killed opportunistically in flooded forests in areas where human population is highest.
As Brazil starts repaving an Amazon highway, land grabbers get to work (Oct 13 2022)
- Paving work has begun on a stretch of highway running through one of the remotest and best-preserved parts of the Brazilian Amazon — even as questions about the project’s permits abound.
- BR-319 was built in the 1970s to connect the Amazonian cities of Manaus and Porto Velho, but a 405-kilometer (250-mile) “Middle Stretch” fell into disrepair, making the road virtually impassable and killing the flow of traffic.
- Conservation experts have long warned against repaving the Middle Stretch, warning that improved access to this carbon-rich region will lead to a surge in deforestation, burning and land grabbing.
- With the repaving underway, this is already happening, raising concerns about unchecked forest loss that would have massive ramifications for the global climate.
Successes and struggles: Brazil’s 20-year Amazon reforestation carbon sink project (Oct 12 2022)
- The Peugeot-ONF Forest Carbon Sink project, implemented more than 20 years ago in northwestern Mato Grosso state, within the “arc of deforestation” of the Brazilian Amazon, has achieved significant ecological restoration and carbon sequestration results.
- Reforesting 2,000 hectares of degraded cattle pasture on the São Nicolau Farm in Cotriguaçu municipality, the project has been Verra certified for reducing carbon emissions, with 394,400 metric tons of CO2 sequestered to date, equal to 85,000 cars taken off the road for a year. This CO2 reduction is being traded as carbon credits on Pachama, an online marketplace.
- Today, São Nicolau Farm is a living laboratory documenting the dynamics of forest restoration and carbon capture in the Amazon. The farm also offers ecotourism, training and educational opportunities.
- But Brazil’s volatile sociopolitical context is posing major risks to the project. Threats include a rising wave of forest crime, along with weakened environmental regulations, and controversial development proposals for the rainforest biome.
Ahead of election, deforestation increased in Brazil (Oct 7 2022)
- Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is surging ahead of the presidential election in Brazil.
- According to data released today by Brazil’s national space research agency INPE, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon topped 1,450 square kilometers in September, a 48% increase over last year.
- Deforestation through the first nine months of 2022 has amounted to 8,590 square kilometers, the highest such tally on record since the current deforestation alert system was established in 2007.
Cutting down the Amazon does not build prosperity for most Brazilians (Sep 29 2022)
- Deforestation proponents in Brazil routinely argue that cutting down the Amazon is an effective way to alleviate poverty. This is especially the case with the Bolsonaro administration, which issued an official statement to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference stating that “where there is a lot of forest there is also a lot of poverty.”
- Ahead of Brazil’s latest election, a group of us led by Darren Norris of the Federal University of Amapá decided to see what the data say about links between deforestation and poverty in the Amazon.
- We found no association between forest loss and these economic indicators. Indeed, the economic indicators for municipalities with less than 40% forest cover in 1986 were no different than those of similar municipalities with more than 60% forest cover from 1986 to 2019.
- The finding thus suggests that “deforestation does not necessarily generate transformative and equitable food production systems or lead to poverty alleviation,” as we write.
In Brazil’s Mato Grosso state, deforesters foot the bill for political campaigns (Sep 28 2022)
- In Brazil’s 2018 elections, 422 candidates running in executive and legislative races at state and federal levels across the country received donations from individuals and partners of companies linked to environmental crimes in the Amazon; 156 of them won election.
- The state of Mato Grosso led in the number of candidates bankrolled by environmental violators — 62 candidates, of whom 19 won — and in the donations made: 6 million reais ($1.5 million).
- Mauro Mendes, who would go on to win the state’s election for governor, received 1 million reais ($257,000) from environmental violators, and his track record in office to date has been marked by controversies over environmental protection and natural resource administration.
- Two federal legislators from Mato Grosso, recipients of environmental violators’ money, also appear to be aligned with their donors’ interests by sponsoring a bill that would effectively free up 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of land that can be legally deforested.
Road network spreads ‘arteries of destruction’ across 41% of Brazilian Amazon (Sep 22 2022)
- A groundbreaking study using satellite data and an artificial intelligence algorithm shows how the spread of unofficial roads throughout the Amazon is driving widespread deforestation.
- One such road is on the verge of cutting across the Xingu Socioenvironmental Corridor, posing a serious risk of helping push the Amazon beyond a crucial tipping point.
- Unprotected public lands account for 25% of the total illegal road network, with experts saying the creation of more protected areas could stem the spread and slow both deforestation and land grabs.
- Officially sanctioned roads, such as the Trans-Amazonian Highway, also need better planning to minimize their impact and prevent the growth of illegal offshoots, experts say.
How close is the Amazon tipping point? Forest loss in the east changes the equation (Sep 20 2022)
- Scientists warn that the Amazon is approaching a tipping point beyond which it would begin to transition from a lush tropical forest into a dry, degraded savanna. This point may be reached when 25% of the forest is lost.
- In a newly released report, the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) estimates that 13.2% of the original Amazon forest biome has been lost due to deforestation and other causes.
- However, when the map is divided into thirds, it shows that 31% of the eastern Amazon has been lost. Moisture cycles through the forest from east to west, creating up to half of all rainfall across the Amazon. The 31% figure is critical, the report says, “because the tipping point will likely be triggered in the east.”
- Experts say the upcoming elections in Brazil could have dramatic consequences for the Amazon, and to avert the tipping point we must lower emissions, undertake ambitious reforestation projects, and build an economy based on the standing forest. Granting and honoring Indigenous land tenure and protected areas are also key strategies.
New tech aims to track carbon in every tree, boost carbon market integrity (Sep 19 2022)
- Climate scientists and data engineers have developed a new digital platform billed as the first-ever global tool for accurately calculating the carbon stored in every tree on the planet.
- Founded on two decades of research and development, the new platform from nonprofit CTrees leverages artificial intelligence-enabled satellite datasets to give users a near-real-time picture of forest carbon storage and emissions around the world.
- With forest protection and restoration at the center of international climate mitigation efforts, CTrees is set to officially launch at COP27 in November, with the overall aim of bringing an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability to climate policy initiatives that rely on forests to offset carbon emissions.
- Forest experts broadly welcome the new platform, but also underscore the risk of assessing forest restoration and conservation projects solely by the amount of carbon sequestered, which can sometimes be a red herring in achieving truly sustainable and equitable forest management.
More droughts are coming, and the Amazon can’t keep up: Study (Sep 16 2022)
- Up to 50% of rainfall in the Amazon comes from the forest itself, as moisture is recycled from the trees to the atmosphere.
- In severe droughts, when the forest loses more water to evaporation than it receives from rain, the trees begin to die. For every three trees that die due to drought in the Amazon rainforest, a fourth tree, even if not directly affected by drought, will also die, according to a new study.
- As trees are lost and the forest dries up, parts of the Amazon will rapidly approach a tipping point, where they will transition into a degraded savanna-like ecosystem with few to no trees.
- The southern and southeastern Amazon are the most vulnerable regions to tipping. Here, deforestation and fires are at their most extreme, driven largely by cattle ranching and soy farming.
Bolsonaro trails in polls, but his base in Congress looks likely to persist (Sep 13 2022)
- With Brazil’s presidential election scheduled for Oct. 2, environmental activists have expressed hope that a turning point in favor of nature could be just weeks away if Jair Bolsonaro loses.
- But two-thirds of the current lower house of Congress voted for anti-environmental bills, and experts predict that the profile of the lawmakers will remain right-wing and pro-agribusiness.
- Deforestation in the Amazon rose to its highest levels in 10 years under Bolsonaro, who vowed to open up the rainforest to agriculture and mining.
- However, experts say a greener agenda could be possible depending on who is appointed the next lower and upper house presidents, a decision that will be made early next year.
Amazon deforestation in Brazil booms in August (Sep 9 2022)
- Rainforest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon jumped 11% in August with deforestation reaching 1,661 square kilometers (641 square miles) — an area more than 28 times the size of Manhattan — according to data released today by Brazil’s national space research agency, INPE.
- The tally brings rainforest clearing detected in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of the year by INPE’s deforestation alert system to 7,135 square kilometers, the highest on record dating back to 2008.
- About 80% of August’s deforestation occurred in just three states: Para (41%), Mato Grosso (20%), and Amazonas (19%).
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been trending higher since 2012 and has especially accelerated since 2019, when Jair Bolsonaro became president.