Amazon deforestation rate pacing ahead of last year

January 18, 2013

Forest conversion for palm oil production in Borneo.

Data released by Imazon, a Brazil-based NGO, shows that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon continues to pace well ahead of last year's record low rate.

In a bulletin posted today, Imazon reported that its near-real-time deforestation tracking system detected 82 square kilometers of forest clearing in December 2012, more than twice the figure of December 2011. It marked the fourth consecutive month where forest clearing exceeded the year-earlier period.

Overall forest loss between August 2012 and December 2012 amounted to 1,288 square kilometers, 127 percent higher than same period in 2011.

However Imazon's near-real-time system isn't as accurate as the system used for tracking annual deforestation. The tool, which has relatively coarse resolution, is used mostly for alerting authorities on the location of forest clearing, rather than measuring changes in forest cover.

While deforestation appears to be tracking higher this year, it's still well below historical levels. Nevertheless were deforestation to double over last year's 4,656 sq km, Brazil would miss its 2013 target of limiting clearing to 8,000 sq km. That target is set to ratchet down to 5,586 sq km in 2014.

More than 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest lies in Brazil. The country is widely seen as a bellwether for global trends in tropical deforestation and conservation.

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mongabay.com (January 18, 2013).

Amazon deforestation rate pacing ahead of last year.