Amazon deforestation rates peaked in the first two months of 2020 with 181 square miles lost despite heavy seasonal rains blaming experts for illegal logging activities
- Satellite data from the Brazilian space agency shows that deforestation will increase in 2020
- The Amazon lost 181 square miles of rainforest in January and February
- Deforestation rates are a 70 percent increase over the same period in 2019
The rate of deforestation in the Amazon was 70 percent faster in January and February than in the same period in 2019.
According to satellite images from INPE, the Brazilian space agency, the Amazon lost 181 square miles of forest in the first two months of 2020, compared to 106 square miles lost in January and February 2019.
It’s a bigger increase than in 2016, during a mega drought compounded by El Nino, when an estimated 133 square miles were lost.
New data from Brazilian space agency INPE shows deforestation in the Amazon has accelerated despite torrential rains during the country’s rainy season, with 181 square miles of rainforest lost in the first two months of 2020
The findings were collected as part of DETER, a program launched by INPE in 2015 to use satellite imagery to study deforestation in the Amazon.
The increase has upset many as January and February are the rainy season in Brazil, meaning the burning operations commonly used to cut down the forest are significantly delayed.
“The increase in deforestation cannot be explained by any climatic factor,” Carlos Nobre of the University of São Paulo told New scientist.
“It is probably only due to environmental criminals’ sense of impunity that law enforcement is very weak and absent.”
Nobre blames the significant increase in illegal logging activities encouraged by the lack of law enforcement to protect the Amazon.
As the rain begins to subside, some are concerned that the rate of deforestation will only increase.
While the rain makes it much more difficult to clear the space by burning the rainforest, experts point to illegal logging as the main source of the increase, and fear that more forest will be lost later in the year when the rain subsides
“The data shows a trend and it is likely that we will see a further increase in deforestation in 2020 as the year progresses, especially as we move towards the dry season when deforestation peaks,” said Erika Berengeur from the University of Oxford.
“Unless there is a strong government response to the increase in deforestation, 2020 will continue to get worse than 2019.”
Amazon deforestation rates were high in the 1990s and early 2000, peaking in 1995 with a total loss of more than 11,580 square miles for the year.
That figure was cut to an all-time low of 1,764 square miles lost in 2012.
However, since then, many of those gains have been obliterated – by 2019 deforestation had risen to 3,769 square miles lost for the year, more than double 2012’s low.
According to preliminary data for 2020, more forest is likely to be lost this year than in 2019.
MAP REVEALS THE DESTRUCTION RATE OF DEFORESTATION AROUND THE GLOBE
Using Landsat imagery and cloud computing, researchers mapped forest cover worldwide, as well as forest loss and profit. In 12 years, 888,000 square miles (2.3 million square kilometers) of forest have been lost and 309,000 square miles (800,000 square kilometers) have been added
The destruction caused by deforestation, forest fires and storms on our planet has been revealed in unprecedented detail.
High-resolution maps released by Google show how forests worldwide lost 1.5 million square kilometers in 2000-2012.
By comparison, that’s a loss of wooded land the size of the entire state of Alaska.
The maps, created by a team from NASA, Google and the researchers from the University of Maryland, used images from the Landsat satellite.
Each pixel in a Landsat image shows an area the size of a baseball diamond, providing enough data to zoom in on a local region.
Previously, country-to-country comparisons of forestry data were not possible at this level of accuracy.
“When you compile datasets that use different methods and definitions, it is difficult to synthesize,” says Matthew Hansen of the University of Maryland.