Satellite Data Brings New Insights on What Drives Amazon Forest Loss

Environmental News from Brazil: 

  • Satellite imagery of the Amazon can now distinguish for the first time between different factors contributing to forest loss.
  • The satellite readings show that approximately 1.1 million hectares (2.7 million acres) were deforested in the Brazilian Amazon last year, the highest since 2017.
  • In the Amazonian regions of Peru and Colombia, there was significant deforestation, but these were down from previous years.

A new analysis of satellite data of the Amazon published in late May provides the most detailed analysis yet of year-to-year deforestation in the region, revealing exactly where and why the rainforest is being cleared across Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia.

The report from NGO Amazon Conservation looked at satellite data from the University of Maryland, which is visualized on the World Resource Institute’s Global Forest Watch platform. A recent update to the data set allowed it, for the first time, to be able to distinguish between different factors contributing to forest loss in the Amazon — something previous algorithms were unable to do. The report is part of Amazon Conservation’s Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP).

Most importantly, the satellite data can now tell the difference between forest fires and other forms of forest loss. It’s an important detail for conservationists trying to figure out where the rainforest is being hit the hardest.

Forest fires aren’t always a form of deforestation. Both contribute to what conservationists understand as “forest loss,” but in different ways.  In many cases, fires only degrade forests, meaning trees are still standing and can even recover.

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Source: Mongabay

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