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Brazil reports increase in Amazon logging

Aerial view of an area in the Amazon deforested for cattle pasture in Candeias do Jamari, Rondônia state. Overflights organized by the Amazon in Flames Alliance -- Amazon Watch, Greenpeace Brazil and the Brazilian Climate Observatory -- between September 13th and 17th documented land use change and fire around the cities of Porto Velho, Rondônia, and Lábrea, Amazonas. Photo © Victor Moriyama / Amazônia em Chamas (Amazon in Flames Alliance)

Aerial view of an area in the Amazon deforested for cattle pasture in Candeias do Jamari, Rondônia state. Overflights organized by the Amazon in Flames Alliance -- Amazon Watch, Greenpeace Brazil and the Brazilian Climate Observatory -- between September 13th and 17th documented land use change and fire around the cities of Porto Velho, Rondônia, and Lábrea, Amazonas. Photo © Victor Moriyama / Amazônia em Chamas (Amazon in Flames Alliance)

  • Selective forest cutting in the Amazon is on the rise, according to data released on Friday by the Brazilian government.
  • INPE reported a 77% increase in the rate of cutting that’s typically associated with logging, from 646 square kilometers in September 2020 to 1,145 square kilometers last month. Selective cutting in the region currently stands at the highest level in at least five years.
  • The rise in logging is significant because logged areas in the Amazon are more likely to be eventually deforested. Selectively logged forests also face higher fire risk due to drier conditions relative to intact rainforests.

Selective forest cutting in the Amazon is on the rise, according to data released on Friday by the Brazilian government.

Monthly deforestation alert data published by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE showed that outright forest clearing in the Brazilian Amazon rose a marginal 2% from 964 square kilometers (606 square miles) to 985 square kilometers between September 2020 and September 2021.

But INPE reported a 77% increase in the rate of cutting that’s typically associated with logging, from 646 square kilometers in September 2020 to 1,145 square kilometers last month. Selective cutting in the region currently stands at the highest level in at least five years.

Data from INPE’s DETER system showing degradation and selective cutting on a monthly basis since July 2017.

The rise in logging is significant because logged areas in the Amazon are more likely to be eventually deforested. Selectively logged forests also face higher fire risk due to drier conditions relative to intact rainforests.

INPE’s latest numbers suggests a slight slowing in the recent deforestation trend in the Amazon. Last year, deforestation reached a 12-year high, topping 11,000 square kilometers, an area the size of Jamaica.

Monthly deforestation according to INPE’s DETER system and Imazon’s SAD system.

An estimate for the extent of forest loss between August 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021 — the period Brazil uses for tracking annual deforestation — is expected next month.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of Earth’s largest rainforest, has been trending upward since 2012. The rate of loss accelerated after President Jair Bolsonaro, who campaigned on rolling back protections for the Amazon, took office in January 2019.

Header image: Deforestation for cattle pasture in September 2021. Photo © Victor Moriyama / Greenpeace / Amazônia em Chamas (Amazon in Flames Alliance)