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

“Game over” for the Amazon forest and global climate if Trump wins? (commentary) (Jul 11 2024)
- Both global climate and the Amazon Forest are near tipping points beyond which irreversible processes would lead to unprecedented catastrophes. A second Trump presidency would both boost greenhouse gas emissions and would risk a critical delay in global efforts to avert a runaway greenhouse.
- The various interrelated tipping points represent thresholds where the annual probability of a catastrophic change increases sharply, after which the risk of a disaster at some point in time increases constantly.
- Climate change threatens the Amazon Forest, and if the rainforest collapses it would push global warming past a tipping point in the climate system. This risk would be greatly increased by a second Trump presidency.
- This is a commentary and does not necessarily reflect the views of Mongabay.

Climate surprises: Amazonia and the lessons of Brazil’s catastrophic flood in Rio Grande do Sul (commentary) (Jul 4 2024)
- Brazil’s catastrophic flood in the state of Rio Grande do Sul is helping to raise public awareness of climate change but has had no visible effect on the Brazilian government’s actions and plans on greenhouse gas emissions. The flood provides an example of “climate surprises,” which are expected to increase further in frequency and severity with projected global warming.
- Amazonia has already been the victim of a series of such surprises, and these threaten the Amazon forest with collapse and the consequent pushing of global warming beyond a point of no return.
- Except for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the rest of Brazil’s presidential administration is on the wrong side of the issue, expanding fossil fuel extraction and promoting deforestation in various ways. An immediate turnaround is needed.
- This is a commentary and does not necessarily reflect the views of Mongabay.

Study says 40% of Amazon region is potentially conserved — more than officially recorded (Jul 1 2024)
- A new study reveals that more than 40% of land across nine Amazonian countries is under some form of conservation management, significantly higher than the 28% reported in official records.
- The research highlights the crucial role of Indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation, with Indigenous territories covering 16% of the total land area of the nine Amazonian countries and community-managed conservation areas adding another 3.5%.
- Despite these findings, the Amazon still faces serious threats from deforestation, fire and climate change, leading some experts to question whether the global “30×30” conservation target is adequate.
- The study’s authors propose a new inventory approach to conservation planning, emphasizing the need to understand existing conservation efforts and governance structures before creating new protected areas or allocating resources.

Revealed: Illegal cattle boom in Arariboia territory in deadliest year for Indigenous Guajajara (Jun 19 2024)
- Commercial cattle ranching is banned on Indigenous territories in Brazil, but a yearlong Mongabay investigation reveals that large plots in the Arariboia Indigenous Territory have been used for ranching amid a record-high number of killings of the region’s Indigenous Guajajara inhabitants.
- Our investigation found a clear rise in environmental crimes in the region in mid-2023, including an unlicensed airstrip and illegal deforestation on the banks of the Buriticupu river, key for Guajajara people’s livelihood.
- With four Guajajara people killed and three others surviving attempts on their lives, 2023 marked the deadliest year for Indigenous people in Arariboia in seven years, equating to the number of killings in 2016, 2008 and 2007.
- Our findings show a pattern of targeted killings of Indigenous Guajajara amid the expansion of illegal cattle ranching and logging in and around Arariboia: we tracked several dozen illegal or suspicious activities; the hotspot killing areas coincide with the bulk of the tracked activities and with police operations curbing illegal logging in Arariboia’s surroundings. There’s no evidence that the owners of the businesses were responsible for the killings.

Brazil’s BR-319 Highway: The latest maneuver to obtain approval for an environmental disaster (commentary) (Jun 17 2024)
- Plans for “reconstructing” Brazil’s formerly abandoned BR-319 (Manaus-Porto Velho) highway would facilitate access to vast areas of Amazon forest from the AMACRO deforestation hotspot in southern Amazonia, argues Philip M. Fearnside.
- The researcher says Brazil’s federal environmental agency is under intense pressure to grant a license to allow the reconstruction to begin. This pressure has reached a new high due to a report just released by a Ministry of Transportation working group claiming the highway project is “environmentally viable.”
- The report ignores almost all of the project’s impacts and presents essentially no evidence that the highway would be “environmentally viable.” Extensive evidence to the contrary is ignored. The report’s deficiencies in no way diminish its effectiveness as a lever to force approval of this disastrous project.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Deforestation in Earth’s largest rainforest continues to plummet despite a rise in fires (Jun 15 2024)
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped to its lowest level since March 2018, according to new data from the Brazilian government.
- Deforestation for the year to date is down 40% compared to 2023, with expectations for a significant annual decline when the “deforestation year” concludes on July 31.
- Despite declining deforestation in the Amazon, the region is experiencing a rise in forest fires due to a severe drought.
- Deforestation is rising in the cerrado, an adjacent ecosystem.

Solutions to avoid loss of environmental, social and governance investment (Jun 12 2024)
- ESG strategies pro-actively support the planet and societal well-being in order to maximize profits over the short and long term. The goal is to align a company’s strategies and operations with the growing demand for the sustainable production of goods and services.
- Critics on the left brand ESG investing as greenwashing, arguing that corporations view it through a public relations lens rather than as a true reform of business models.
- Supporters contend the emerging ESG schemes are different in both scope and scale from previous sustainability initiatives, where the power of consumers was dispersed via complex supply chains and political processes.
- A very large company may have a good ESG score overall, but a poorly conceived project in the Pan Amazon. Moreover, the global corporations that participate in ESG initiatives are not representative of the dozens of domestic mining companies that operate in the Pan Amazon.

Brazil police raid Amazon carbon credit projects exposed by Mongabay (Jun 7 2024)
- The Brazilian Federal Police arrested people and seized assets linked to some of the country’s largest carbon credit projects.
- According to the investigators, the group was running land-grabbing and timber laundering crimes in the Amazon for more than a decade and profiting millions of dollars.
- The projects were exposed at the end of May in a one-year investigation published by Mongabay, which showed links between the REDD+ projects and an illegal timber scam.
- Authorities and experts hope the findings will raise the bar for projects in the country and persuade lawmakers to create strict rules for the Brazilian carbon market, which is now under discussion.

Amazon deforestation threatens one of Brazil’s key pollinators, study shows (Jun 5 2024)
- Orchid bees, which help pollinate species from at least 30 plant families and play a big role in Brazil’s agriculture, have long been under threat from land-use change.
- Data from 1996-1997 from the Amazonian state of Rondônia show the twin spread of deforestation and agriculture drove down orchid bee abundance and diversity in this region.
- Analyzed in a recent study, the data suggest that bee diversity and abundance decline after only a decade of land-use change.
- Scientists revisited the past data collected from more than 130 sites to provide a more comprehensive baseline of orchid bee biodiversity as the region continues to face deforestation.

New bill to expand farmlands in the Amazon may derail Brazil’s green efforts (May 29 2024)
- A bill that would reduce the amount of primary forest that landowners in the Brazilian Amazon must preserve may lead to the deforestation of an area twice the size of Rio de Janeiro state.
- The bill has been tailored for the interests of the agribusiness lobby by permitting an increase in legal deforestation and would bring regulation of the Amazon closer to that of the heavily deforested Cerrado savanna biome.
- For environmental organizations, its potential approval would undermine Brazil’s stated goals of reducing carbon emissions and putting an end to deforestation by 2030.

Governments are ramping up actions to fight environmental crime across the Amazon, but is it working? (commentary) (May 27 2024)
- In 2023, Amazon deforestation rates declined after years of record-breaking losses, thanks to efforts led by Brazil and Colombia. However, these gains are fragile, and anti-deforestation efforts show signs of weakening, with persistent risks of a tipping point, argues Robert Muggah, Co-Founder of the Igarapé Institute.
- Government measures focus on forest conservation, green development, and strengthening the rule of law but face challenges due to underfunding and limited municipal support. Public security forces are overwhelmed by environmental crimes like illegal mining and wildlife trafficking, exacerbating forest and biodiversity loss.
- Environmental crime is gaining more attention from decision-makers, law enforcement, and civil society, leading to increased media coverage and public commitments. Despite this, interventions remain fragmented, with inconsistent political backing and funding, writes Muggah.
- “Ultimately, Brazil and other countries in the Amazon Basin cannot reverse environmental crime through police and prosecutions alone,” he writes. “A comprehensive strategy that combines law enforcement with nature-based development opportunities is critical.” This post is a commentary, so the views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Collective effort monitors Amazon wildlife in heavily logged Brazil state (May 24 2024)
- Indigenous communities, the government and civil society organizations are working to identify the status and whereabouts of animals in one of the most deforested states of the Brazilian Amazon.
- Devastated by the expansion of cattle ranching and soy farming, Rondônia has seen changes in the composition of its fauna due to alterations in the landscape.
- The initiatives for surveying and monitoring Rondônia’s fauna are being carried out in conservation units, Indigenous territories and restored forest areas on private lands; the goal is to guide conservation policies.

Global markets and their effects on resource exploitation in the Pan Amazon (May 21 2024)
- Extractive companies operate to maximize their profits as global demand is highly fluctuating. Prior to 2000, the prices of industrial minerals were at historical lows, but jumped through the next two decades as China began its infrastructure boom.
- As of January 2023, another commodity boom appears to be underway. In part, this is due to the war in Ukraine and the (as yet unknown) dimensions and duration of the sanctions regime imposed on Russia by the United States, the European Union and their allies in Asia-Pacific.
- As minerals required by the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy are plentiful in the Pan Amazon, there will be significant economic pressure to develop those resources.
- Governments in the Pan Amazon are predisposed to support the mining and hydrocarbon industries because they are export-oriented and generate revenues for the state.

Top brands buy Amazon carbon credits from suspected timber laundering scam (May 21 2024)
- An analysis of two carbon credit projects in the Brazilian Amazon has found that they may be connected to illegal timber laundering.
- Prior to the analysis, forest management plans had already been suspended in the areas over the same issue.
- The projects belong to Ricardo Stoppe Jr., known as the biggest individual seller of carbon credits in Brazil, who has made millions of dollars selling these credits to companies like GOL Airlines, Nestlé, Toshiba, Spotify, Boeing and PwC; his partner in one of the projects was convicted of timber laundering six years ago.
- Their REDD+ projects were developed by Carbonext, known as the largest carbon credit provider in Brazil, and certified by Verra, one of the world’s largest voluntary carbon market registries.

Despite drought, Amazon deforestation alerts hit five-year low (May 10 2024)
- The Brazilian Amazon experienced a 47% decrease in deforestation in April compared to last year, marking the lowest level in five years, and a 51% decrease over the past 12 months.
- Since President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in January 2023, his administration has effectively curbed deforestation by reinstating conservation programs, strengthening environmental agencies, and supporting Indigenous rights.
- The decline in deforestation occurred despite a severe drought affecting the region, which includes record fires in the state of Roraima.

Secrets from the rainforest’s past uncovered in Amazonian backyards (May 8 2024)
- Riverbank communities in Amazonas and Rondônia are helping to piece together the puzzle of human presence in the rainforest over the last 10,000 years with archaeological remains found in their backyards and nearby their homes.
- Preserved in household museums, pottery fragments compose a collective project drawing together scientists and communities seeking to understand Amazonia’s past.
- Ancestral soils known as Amazonian Dark Earths with remains of farming and food preparation are offering clues about how humans transformed the forest over time

A web of front people conceals environmental offenders in the Amazon (Apr 22 2024)
- A paper trail left by a notorious land grabber reveals how he used relatives and an employee as fronts to evade environmental fines and lawsuits, shedding light on this widespread practice in the Brazilian Amazon.
- Fronts prevent the real criminals from having their assets seized to pay for environmental fines, besides consuming time and resources from the authorities, who spend years trying to prove who the real financier of the deforestation is.
- Experts say it’s best to go after environmental offenders where it hurts the most, by seizing their assets, rather than to chase down their true identity.
- This investigation is part of a partnership between Mongabay and Repórter Brasil.

Deforestation alerts in the Brazilian Amazon fall to a 5-year low (Apr 18 2024)
- Forest clearing detected by Brazil’s deforestation alert system fell to the lowest level in nearly five years.
- According to data released last week by the country’s space agency, INPE, deforestation registered over the past twelve months amounts to 4,816 square kilometers, 53% below the level this time last year.
- The drop in deforestation has occurred despite a severe drought affecting much of the Amazon basin.

New technologies to map environmental crime in the Amazon Basin (commentary) (Apr 12 2024)
- Environmental crimes like land grabbing, illegal deforestation, and poaching hinder climate action, deter investment in sustainable practices, and threaten biodiversity across major biomes worldwide.
- Despite challenges such as vast territories difficult to police and weak rule of law, new technologies like geospatial and predictive analytics are being leveraged to enhance the detection and disruption of these activities.
- Innovative approaches, including public-private partnerships and AI tools, show promise in improving real-time monitoring and enforcement, although they require increased investment and training to be truly effective, argue Robert Muggah and Peter Smith of Instituto Igarapé, a “think and do tank” in Brazil.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily Mongabay.

A short walk through Amazon time: Interview with archaeologist Anna Roosevelt (Apr 10 2024)
- Anna Roosevelt has been working in the Amazon for four decades and her pivotal research has changed the knowledge of the rainforest’s occupation.
- In an interview with Mongabay, she explains how her research led to evidence of much older Amazon settlements than previously thought, challenging a decades-long scientific consensus about how Indigenous people related to the forest.
- “One reason I was able to make some great discoveries is because of how opinionated archaeologists in the mid-20th century were. I only benefited from their mistakes,” she said.
- Roosevelt said the recent hype regarding the “garden cities” in Ecuador is “annoying”, as it is not a new discovery and it ignores older research from Latin American archaeologists.