Site icon Conservation news

Amazon deforestation surges in April

Forest fire in a deforested area in an undesignated public forest in Altamira, Pará on Jul 31, 2021. Photo © Christian Braga/Greenpeace

Forest fire in a deforested area in an undesignated public forest in Altamira, Pará on Jul 31, 2021. Photo © Christian Braga/Greenpeace

  • Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon exceeded 1,000 square kilometers in April, the highest total since 2008 and roughly twice the level of April 2021, according to data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE.
  • The loss — which only accounts for the first 29 days of the month — put deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon through the first four months of 2022 at 1,953 square kilometers as the region heads into the peak deforestation season.
  • Last year deforestation topped 13,000 square kilometers for the first time since 2006.
  • Scientists have warned that the Amazon may be approaching a tipping point where vast areas of rainforest transition to a woody savanna.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon exceeded 1,000 square kilometers in April, the highest total since 2008 and roughly twice the level of April 2021, according to data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE.

The loss — which only accounts for the first 29 days of the month — puts deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon through the first four months of 2022 at 1,953 square kilometers as the region heads into the peak deforestation season, which typically runs from May to September or October.

Deforestation detected by INPE’s DETER system for the first two months of each year since 2008. Due to cloud cover, deforestation data in January and February are less reliable than other months of the year. Annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is measured at the end of July, which typically coincides with the peak of the dry season when cloud cover is at a minimum.

Last year deforestation topped 13,000 square kilometers for the first time since 2006. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been trending upward since 2012 and has accelerated since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019.

Annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, according to INPE.

The Brazilian Amazon has lost nearly 20% of its forest cover since the early 1970s. A growing body of research suggests that the ecosystem may be approaching a tipping point where vast areas of rainforest transition to a woody savanna. Such a forest die-off would have dire implications for efforts to address climate change and biodiversity loss, with substantial impacts on rainfall patterns across the region.

Header image: Forest fire in a deforested area in an undesignated public forest in Altamira, Pará on Jul 31, 2021. Photo © Christian Braga/Greenpeace