Mongabay Features

Amazon rainforest loss topped 10,000 sq km in 2019

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surpassed 10,000 square kilometers in 2019, the according to revised data from Brazil’s national space research institute INPE. It’s the first time forest clearing in Earth’s largest rainforest has topped that mark since 2008.

INPE says that 10,129 square kilometers of forest were cleared across the “Legal Amazon” — an area that includes parts of eight Brazilian states — between August 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019, the “year” Brazil uses for tracking deforestation. That loss is 3.8% higher than the preliminary estimate the government provided in November, but it is line with the revision the normally occurs several months after the initial estimate is published.

Annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon since 1988 according to INPE’s PRODES system.

The new figure indicates that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was 34.4% higher in 2019 than the prior year. Deforestation has now increased in five of the past seven years since bottoming out at a historic low of 4,571 sq km in 2012.

Forest loss in 2020 is pacing well ahead of last year’s rate according to INPE’s short-term deforestation alert system called DETER. Through mid-May 2020 over 6,000 sq km of forest had been cleared since August 1, 85% more than the same time last year and the fastest rate of loss since at least 2007.

By Rhett Ayers Butler

Rhett Ayers Butler is the Founder and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. He started Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife.