Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, 2007-2016. Estimates are shown from two different monitoring systems, INPE and Imazon. Graphic: mongabay.com

By Rhett A. Butler
3 September 2016

(mongabay.com) – Newly released data suggest that rainforest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon has reached the highest level since 2009.

In the past week, Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) and Imazon, a Brazilian NGO, have independently released data from their near-real-time deforestation monitoring programs. Both show a steep rise in forest clearing relative to this time last year, putting deforestation near decade-level highs.

INPE, which last year stopped reporting deforestation on a monthly basis, released numbers for April through July 2016 showing that its alert system detected 2,953 square kilometers of clearing in the Amazon rainforest. That represents a 25 percent increase over the year earlier period. For the twelve months ending July 31, the area amounted to 5,971 square kilometers — the highest 12-month total dating back to March 2009.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, 2007-2016. Long-term (INPE's PRODES) versus short term (INPE's DETER and Imazon’s SAD) deforestation monitoring systems in the Brazilian Amazon are shown. Graphic: mongabay.com

Though Imazon uses its own deforestation detection algorithm, its data shows a similar trend, with forest loss rising to a seven-year high.

Both INPE and Imazon show particularly pronounced deforestation in June 2016: 1,431 square kilometers and 972 square kilometers respectively. Imazon’s system also revealed a big increase in forest degradation, which often precedes outright deforestation. [more]

Rainforest destruction rises in the Brazilian Amazon

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