Amazon deforestation in Brazil drops 18 percent in 2013/2014 – Still nearly 5,000 square kilometers lost in one yearPosted by Jim at Monday, December 01, 2014
By Rhett Butler
26 November 2014
(mongabay.com) – Preliminary data released by the Brazilian government suggests that deforestation in Earth's largest rainforest slowed 18 percent over the past year.
Figures published Wednesday by Brazil's National Space Research Institute (INPE) show that 4,848 square kilometers (1,871 square miles) of forest — an area about the size of the state of Rhode Island or the country of Brunei — were cleared between August 2013 and July 2014. That compares to 5,891 square kilometers in the year earlier period and represents the second lowest figure since annual record-keeping began in 1988.
Forest loss was concentrated in the Pará, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia, states that account for the bulk of the agricultural frontier in the country. Both Pará and Rondônia showed marked decreases versus the year prior. The biggest increases in forest loss occurred in Acre and Roraima.
The figures are preliminary, based on analysis of 89 Landsat images. Brazil typically releases final data in the third quarter of the following year.
The data confirms that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon remains very low by historic standards. The estimate for 2013-2014 suggests that loss was 13 percent below the target set in 2008 for reducing deforestation 80 percent by 2020.
Nonetheless data from the past three months has raised concerns among environmentalists that deforestation may be on an upswing. Monthly reports released by Imazon, a Brazilian NGO, show that loss is pacing 226 percent of last year's rate. Furthermore there are worries that deforestation is shifting to ecosystems outside the Amazon — especially in the woody grassland known as the cerrado. [more]