Deforestation in the Amazon remains at high levels, with a rate of 11,568 km² in 2022

30 novembro 2022

Figure confirms the uncontrolled pace of devastation in the Bolsonaro years, when the biome lost an area larger than that of Denmark
By WWF-Brazil

The annual rate of deforestation in the Amazon estimated in 2022 was 11,568 km², according to official data from the Legal Amazon Deforestation Satellite Monitoring Project (PRODES), of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The deforestation rate refers to the period between August 2021 and July 2022.

The states leading the destruction in 2022 were Pará, Amazonas and Mato Grosso, with 4,141 km², 2,607 km² and 1,906 km² deforested, respectively. The largest increase in estimated deforestation was in the state of Amazonas with 13.1 % more compared to 2021.

Deforestation in the Amazon remained at the highest levels since 2009, despite the reduction compared to 2021 (13,235 km²), consolidating the trend of uncontrolled increase in devastation observed in the last four years, during the Bolsonaro government. The year 2009 was the one in which the deforestation reduction target for 2020 was set at 3,925 km², in the National Plan on Climate Change in Brazil. The estimated rate this year is almost 3 times higher.

The area devastated in 2022 in the Amazon is 48.2%  larger than the average observed in the last 10 years in the biome. In the four years of Bolsonaro's administration, 45,586 km² of forests were destroyed - an area larger than that of Denmark.

The explosion of deforestation during the last Federal administration is the result of the abandonment of the environmental protection system, according to Raul do Valle, specialist in Public Policy at WWF-Brazil. "In recent years, deforestation associated with illegal activities has increased exponentially due to the reduction of inspections and the dismantling of environmental agencies. The figures consolidated by the PRODES system on deforestation in the Amazon confirm the urgency of resuming command and control mechanisms" , said Valle.

“The new government needs to send out a clear signal that no deforestation will be tolerated and rebuild the entire protective framework that was destroyed. This path is critical for Brazil to guarantee its climate security and resume its leadership role in environmental issues on the international stage", added Valle.

Without this recovery of the capacity for inspection and action by environmental agencies, the Amazon is getting dangerously close to a tipping point, from which it will lose the ability to provide the ecosystem services on which we all depend, according to Mariana Napolitano, Head of Science at WWF-Brazil.

"The consolidated data on deforestation in the Amazon from the PRODES system prove the dramatic scenario that the DETER system already pointed out: the threshold of 10,000 km² per year has been surpassed again, putting the Amazon closer and closer to its tipping point," she said.

According to her, losing the Amazon would directly affect the livelihoods of 47 million people and intensify the global climate emergency. “Furthermore, it would jeopardize food security across South America and affect agriculture on other continents. It is essential and feasible to significantly reduce deforestation rates until it is completely eliminated by 2030. It is a humanitarian imperative in the face of the dual climate crisis and the massive loss of global biodiversity that humanity is facing," she said.

Farming sector

The drastic reduction of deforestation and its complete elimination by 2025 is one of the essential conditions for avoiding global warming above 1.5 degrees. In addition to the resumption of public policies, resources and conditions for inspection and control of environmental crime, the reduction of deforestation and emissions will not be achieved without the participation of the farming sector. The roadmap to reduce deforestation associated with agricultural production, which was proposed during COP 27 this month by the largest agricultural commodity traders, is not enough to achieve this target.

The food production chain contributes at least one third of the total net GHG emissions that are altering the planet's climate. Therefore, for the goals of the Paris Agreement to be met, emissions from the food system need to decrease by more than 80% by 2050 - which will only be possible with the effective implementation of zero deforestation policies.

Deforestation in the Cerrado

In the case of the Cerrado, for the most recent period (August 2021 to July 2022), INPE's Real-Time Deforestation Detection System (DETER) indicated an increase of 12.1% in deforestation alerts when compared to the same period in 2020.  Considering deforestation alerts since the beginning of the year and until November 17, the date of the last data update, this increase was 23.2% compared to the same period in 2021.

DETER is a real-time alert system aimed at supporting inspections and its data are usually corroborated by PRODES, which is the system aimed at measuring official deforestation rates.

Therefore, an increase in deforestation measured by PRODES in the Cerrado is also expected in the same period, but these data have not yet been released. “In addition to the PRODES data on the Amazon, it is essential to have the PRODES data on Cerrado published as soon as possible. The available data on the Cerrado point to a 17,5% increase in deforestation in the last three years, from 7,260 km² in 2018 to 8,531 km2 in 2021'', said Mariana Napolitano.
Deforestation in the Amazon remained at the highest levels since [2009], despite the reduction compared to 2021 (13,235 km2),
© Israel Vale/ WWF-Brasil
Figure confirms the uncontrolled pace of devastation in the Bolsonaro years, when the biome lost an area larger than that of Denmark
© Israel Valle/ WWF-Brasil