photo: Leo Freitas via flickr
According to preliminary data from Brazilian NGO Imazon, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is down 16% over the past twelve months, with 1,488 square kilometers (574 square miles) of forest cleared. All that tree felling resulted in 95.6 million metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere, Mongabay reports, an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of Greece. To put those stats in perspective, even though deforestation is declining an area of forest about 1.2 times the city of Los Angeles or New York is still be entirely cleared annually, not to mention that forest degradation (land not fully cleared but still seriously disturbed) over the same period was similar in 2009-2010 as it was in the previous year.
About half of the forest lost in the past year occurred in the state of Para, due to rapidly expanding industrial agriculture; 23% of deforestation was in Mato Grosso, where cattle ranching and soybean production dominate.
Imazon and INPE caution that this data is still preliminary, based on only tracking areas of deforestation greater than 25 hectares (about one-tenth of a square mile). More detailed data, tracking areas down to one-fiftieth of a square mile, will be released later in the year.
Different Tracking Methods Produce Discrepancy in Decline
You may have seen earlier reports about how Amazon deforestation had declined about 50% from 2009-2010, with even recent data from the Brazilian space agency showing 48% declines. Mongabay describes the reason for the discrepancy:
The discrepancy between INPE's and Imazon's estimates results from differences in how deforestation is tracked using MODIS data--Imazon uses an automatic deforestation detection method. while INPE uses mainly visual interpretation by analysts.
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More on Amazon Deforestation:
Amazon Deforestation Down 51 Percent From This Time Last Year: So, What's Working?
Amazon Deforestation Increases Malaria Rate by 50%
Carbon Emissions From Amazon Deforestation Increase as Older Forest Cleared
Cattle Pastures in Deforested Amazon Now the Size of Iceland