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The MapBiomas tool monitors the Amazon forest and the results say the region lost 29,5 million hectares from 2000 to 2017; illegal deforestation increased in the last 20 months

MapBiomas monitors changes in the use of soil in the Amazon, and follows pressures on the rainforest. The tool published its first report and presented alarming data.

The Project – entitled First Collection of Annual Maps on Forest Cover and Use of Soil in Pan-Amazonia (2000 – 2017) – says that in despite of conserving 85% of the native forests’ cover, the region lost 29,5 million hectares between 2000 and 2017 – a territory equivalent to Ecuador. On the other hand, during the same period, there was a growth of 41% in the agriculture and livestock area.

The survey was produced by the Amazon Geo-referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network (RAISG) and Amazônia Socioambiental (Socio-Environmental Amazon). It processed data collected from Google Earth’s Engine platform in more than 7 million square kilometers of Amazon.

This is the first mapping of the region compatible and standardized to the nine countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela), six biomes (Amazon, Cerrado, Andes, Bolivian Tucumano, Chaco-Chiquitano and Marshland), and 21 types of soil cover.

“With the release of the first collection of MapBiomas Amazonia and the first collection of Mapbiomas Chaco, which will be released in the following months, we’ll cover almost 90% of the South American territory. The value of this database is priceless, since it contributes to understanding the use of the region’s natural resources, and allows for a calculation of greenhouse gas emissions by the changes in soil use,” Tasso Azevedo, General Coordinator of MapBiomas, comments lively.

Ampla área desmatada. Crédito: Ibama

Deforestation has high increase in the last 20 months

Between August 2017 and July 2018, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rose again. According to a joint statement by the Ministries of Environment and Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications, the Amazon forest lost 7,900 km² due to illegal deforestation – 13.7% more than the 6,947 km² lost during the same period in previous years. This represents more than 1 billion trees, with an average of 1,500 trees per hectare.

In the same period, Imazon (the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment) points to a significant increase in deforestation:  a 39% growth compared to the previous year. According to Imazon, 83% of the clearing became pasture and agriculture, and forest degradation (a less visible and less aggressive type of deforestation) increased by 220%.

Environmentalist Paulo Barreto, a senior researcher at Imazon and Master of Forestry at Yale University, wrote an article to (o)Eco listing six measures to reverse the outbreak of deforestation in the Amazon. According to Barreto:

  • Brazil can clear deforestation and continue to increase agricultural production;
  • It is essential to collect the Rural Territorial Tax (ITR) effectively;
  • The effectiveness of monitoring needs to be improved;
  • It is mandatory to prevent public land grabbing;
  • The Ministry of Environment must coordinate policies with other government departments;
  • Communication with the Brazilian population should be improved

Content published in April 22, 2019

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