In one year, deforestation drops in the Amazon and hits the lowest rate since 2019

novembro, 10 2023

The annual rate disclosed by PRODES System indicates a reduction of 23,3% compared to the previous period
By WWF-Brazil 

From August 2022 to July 2023 the annual deforestation rate fell to 9,001 km². This is the lowest figure since 2019, below the 10,000 km² recorded in previous years in the biome, representing a reduction of 2,593 km² compared to the previous period, according to measurements from satellites of the Deforestation Monitoring Project in the Legal Amazon (PRODES).

The data confirm the effectiveness of recent efforts to control forest devastation, proving that political will to combat environmental crimes makes a difference. In the previous period, still under the Bolsonaro administration - which promoted an unprecedented environmental dismantling in federal environmental governance bodies - there were 11,568 km² of destruction, an area larger than the Netherlands.

Rondônia, Pará and Amazonas were some of the states that reduced deforestation between August 2022 and July 2023, while Mato Grosso recorded an increase of 9% in the same period. “The states of Pará and Mato Grosso are not surprising for being at the forefront of deforestation, although they already have many cleared areas, enough to expand agricultural production”, highlights Ana Carolina Crisostomo, Conservation specialist at WWF-Brazil.

The PRODES mapping showed an inversion in the deforestation curve, which was steadily rising along the second half of 2022. Between January and July 2023, already under the management of President Lula, there was a reduction of 42% in deforestation in the Amazon. The period benefited from strong federal action. In 2023, several initiatives were launched, including a specific secretariat for deforestation control and the launch of the PPCDAM (Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon), a historically effective tool in reducing deforestation.

“The reduction in deforestation in the Amazon observed by Prodes, even considering the last half of 2022, is a great sign, the result of coordinated government action. Still, deforestation levels remain high and we need to bring this destruction to zero. The Amazon forest provides essential environmental services for the country's development. The regularity of the rain cycle, on which our electrical system depends, as well as the supply of cities, industries and agriculture, is just one of these services. The forest is also an essential carbon sink for tackling the climate crisis", highlights Mariana Napolitano, Director of Strategy at WWF-Brazil.

In recent years, the Amazon has presented consecutive records of deforestation and scientists warn that we are increasingly close to a tipping point in its ecological balance. In the current scenario of the climate crisis worsened by El Niño, deforestation is a worsening factor for the droughts, wildfires and atmospheric pollution that the Amazon states are experiencing. The damage is huge, both for people who suffer from water availability and for biodiversity.

Since September 2023, the Amazon has suffered from a severe drought that favours the spread of fire. With 22,061 thousand fire outbreaks, the Amazon had the worst month of October in 15 years. The extreme drought mainly affects the Western Amazon, where some of the main rivers have seen an unprecedented reduction in level.

Together, drought, wildfires and deforestation worsen local suffering. Communities suffer in isolation without access to essential services, the local economy is already affected by rising freight prices and animals also suffer. Since September, 228 pink river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) and tucuxi river dolphins (Sotalia fluviatilis) have died. The cause is still uncertain, but experts warn that water temperatures could be the reason.

In the coming weeks, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change should release data on deforestation and conversion in the Cerrado between August 2022 and July this year. “Based on monthly DETER monitoring, unfortunately and contrary to what is seen in the Amazon, an increase in the rate of deforestation in the Cerrado is expected, something that inspires a lot of concern”, says Ana Carolina Crisostomo.

About  WWF-Brazil

WWF-Brazil is a Brazilian NGO that has been working collectively for 27 years with partners from civil society, universities, governments and companies across the country to combat socio-environmental degradation and defend people's lives and nature. We are connected in an interdependent global network that seeks urgent solutions to the climate emergency.
Apesar da alta no final de 2022, as taxas de desmatamento vem caindo desde o começo deste ano de 2023
The data confirm the effectiveness of recent efforts to control forest devastation
© Ubiratan G. Suruí /WWF-Brasil