By Rhett A. Butler
26 June 2013
Researchers from Terra-i and O-Eco's InfoAmazonia team have developed updated forest cover maps for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. The results reveal a 24 percent increase in forest loss between 2011 and 2012 and an increasing trend since 2004.
Peru had the largest extent of forest loss in 2012, losing 48,000 hectares, an increase of 15,431 ha or 47 percent over 2011. Venezuela (11,606 ha), Colombia (10,069 ha), Bolivia (6,975 ha), Suriname (6,569 ha), Guyana (3,713 ha), Ecuador (1,663 ha), and French Guyana (1,338 ha) followed. In terms of percentage change, Colombia (118 percent) and Suriname (114 percent) had the rate of increase over the period. Bolivia saw a 66 percent decrease in deforestation.
InfoAmazonia's analysis also looked at deforestation at a subnational level, including states, departments, and municipalities as well as protected areas, indigenous reserves, and ecosystems. Loreto, Peru had the largest forest loss in 2012 — 25,544 ha. Caquetá, Colombia saw its deforestation rate jump 193 percent.
Among parks, Pacaya Samiria (3,325 ha) in Peru, Imataca (1,356 ha), the Upper Orinoco-Cassiquiare (819 ha) in Venezuela, and Noord Saramaccan (581 ha) in Suriname saw the highest forest loss. The Iquitos várzea — floodplain forest along the main stem of the Amazon — lost the largest area of forest among eco-regions both in 2012 (24,094 ha) and over the nine-year period (151,675 ha).
Indigenous areas, which covered 4.4 percent of the land area, accounted for 1.5 percent of forest loss detected between 2004 and 2012. By comparison, protected areas covered 19.9 percent of the area and accounted for 9.3 percent of deforestation. The results indicate that indigenous areas, adjusted for size, had a lower rate of forest loss than parks in the region. [more]