MAAP #138: As Brazil Negotiates With World, Amazon Deforestation Continues In 2021

Expanding new 2021 deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon (Mato Grosso). Data: Planet. Click to enlarge image.
Expanding new 2021 deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon (Mato Grosso). Data: Planet.

Brazil is currently in high-profile negotiations with countries such as the United States and Norway for international compensation in exchange for improved action to address Amazon deforestation.*

While this may be a positive development diplomatically, on the ground extensive deforestation continues.

We recently reported that, in 2020, Brazil had the sixth-highest primary forest loss on record (1.5 million hectares) and a 13% increase from 2019 (MAAP #136).

Here we present a first look at 2021 Brazilian Amazon deforestation.

This early analysis is important because a) it provides real-time context for the negotiations, and b) these are the first areas that are likely to be burned in the upcoming fire season (see MAAP #129).

We first analyzed a new generation of early warning forest loss alerts, based on 10-meter resolution imagery (a major upgrade from the previous 30-meter alerts).* These alerts indicate the loss of over 175,000 hectares of primary forest thus far in 2021.

We then investigated the most urgent (large alert clusters) with even higher resolution (3 meters) satellite imagery from Planet.

Below, we present a series of high-resolution imagery videos showing key examples of 2021 Brazilian Amazon deforestation.

 

 

Primary forest hotspots 2021 (thru April 4). Data: UMD/GLAD, MAAP.
Primary forest hotspots 2021 (thru April 4). Data: UMD/GLAD, MAAP.

Forest Loss Alerts

The alerts indicate the loss of 175,330 hectares of primary forest in the Brazilian Amazon between January 1 and April 4, 2021.

The Base Map illustrates where this deforestation has been concentrated.

Note the heavy concentrations in the states of Mato Grosso, Pará, and Amazonas, followed by Rondônia and Roraima.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High-resolution Imagery Videos

Mato Grosso

Planet Link

 

Pará

Planet Link

 

 

Mato Grosso

Planet Link

 

Rondônia

Planet Link

 

Munduruku Indigenous Territory (Pará)

Planet Link

 

*Notes

For more information on the negotiations between Brazil and both the United States and Norway, see the following links:

As climate summit unfolds, no Biden-Bolsonaro Amazon deal forthcoming
Mongabay

Brazil’s Bolsonaro, under U.S. pressure, vows climate neutrality by 2050
Reuters

Joe Biden’s billions won’t stop Brazil destroying the Amazon rainforest
Guardian

Brazil demand for U.S. to pay upfront stalls deal to save Amazon forest
Reuters

Brazil needs $10 bln a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050, minister says
Reuters

‘Negotiating with your worst enemy’: Biden in risky talks to pay Brazil to save Amazon
Guardian

Brazil’s promises to slash forest losses ’empty’, researchers say ahead of Biden summit
Reuters

Brazil must cut deforestation 15-20% a year to reach 2030 goal, says vice president
Reuters

Norway nixes support until Brazil reduces Amazon deforestation
Business Day

 

 

*Methods

The early warning forest loss alerts used in this report are produced by the University of Maryland (GLAD).  They are the first alerts based on 10-meter resolution imagery obtained from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite. Previous alerts were based on 30-meter resolution imagery obtained from NASA/USGS Landsat satellites.

To identify the deforestation hotspots, we conducted a kernel density estimate. This type of analysis calculates the magnitude per unit area of a particular phenomenon, in this case forest cover loss. We conducted this analysis using the Kernel Density tool from Spatial Analyst Tool Box of ArcGIS. We used the following parameters:

Search Radius: 15000 layer units (meters)
Kernel Density Function: Quartic kernel function
Cell Size in the map: 200 x 200 meters (4 hectares)
Everything else was left to the default setting.

For the Base Map, we used the following concentration percentages: Medium: >10%; High: >15%; Very High: >25%.

 

 

Acknowledgments

We thank A. Folhadella (ACA) for their helpful comments on this report.

This work was supported by NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) and ICFC (International Conservation Fund of Canada).

Citation

Finer M, Mamani N (2021) As Brazil negotiates with world, Amazon deforestation continues in 2021. MAAP: 138.

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MAAP#127: Mennonite Colonies Continue Major Deforestation in Peruvian Amazon

Recent deforestation associated with the Mennonite colony Tierra Blanca 1, in Loreto, Peru. Data: Planet
Recent deforestation associated with the Mennonite colony Tierra Blanca 1, in Loreto, Peru. Data: Planet

The Mennonites, a religious group often associated with organized agricultural activity, have started three new colonies in the Peruvian Amazon.

We have documented the deforestation of 8,500 acres (3,440 hectares) in these three colonies over the past four years (updated October 2020).

The deforestation started in 2017, but continues to be active in 2020 (with 1,900 acres lost, 25% of the total).

Notably, this combined Mennonite deforestation now exceeds the total loss from the infamous United Cacao case (2,400 hectares), one of the last major controversial large-scale deforestation cases in the Peruvian Amazon (MAAP #27).

Moreover, there are strong indications that the deforestation associated with these three Mennonite colonies is illegal (see Legality Statement below).

Below, we present the following:

  • Base Map showing the location of the three new Mennonite colonies in the Peruvian Amazon.
  • A series of satellite images showing the recent deforestation in the most active colony (Tierra Blanca 1), including a very high resolution (0.5 meter) Skysat image.
  • Legality Statement.
  • A graphic showing that the deforested area was not previously cleared (that is, it was intact forest).

 

Base Map. Location of the three new Mennonite Colonies in the Peruvian Amazon. Data: MAAP.
Base Map. Location of the three new Mennonite Colonies in the Peruvian Amazon. Data: MAAP.

Base Map

The Base Map shows the location of the three new Mennonite colonies in the Peruvian Amazon.

Two colonies are located near the town of Tierra Blanca in the northern Peruvian Amazon (Loreto region).

The other colony is located near the town of Masisea in the central Peruvian Amazon (Ucayali region).

Of the total deforestation (8,500 acres):

  • 63% (5,370 acres) is from the colony Tierra Blanca 1;
  • 25% (2,145 acres) is from the colony Masisea;
  • 12% (990 acres) is from the colony Tierra Blanca 2.

Deforestation 2017-20

The following image shows the total deforestation of 5,370 acres (2,174 hectares) between November 2016 (left panel) and October 2020 (right panel), associated with the Mennonite colony Tierra Blanca 1. The red dot serves as a reference point between the two panels. Click to enlarge.

Deforestation between September 2016 (left panel) and October 2020 (right panel), associated with the Mennonite colony Tierra Blanca 1. Data: Planet, MAAP. Click to enlarge.
Deforestation between September 2016 (left panel) and October 2020 (right panel), associated with the Mennonite colony Tierra Blanca 1. Data: Planet, MAAP. Click to enlarge.

Deforestation 2020

The following image shows the most recent deforestation of 1,540 acres (625 hectares) between January 2020 (left panel) and October 2020 (right panel), associated with the Tierra Blanca 1 Mennonite colony. The red lines indicate new 2020 deforestation. Also see the Annex below for a map of the 2020 deforestation in relation to previous 2017-19 deforestation. Click to enlarge.

Deforestation between January 2020 (left panel) and October 2020 (right panel), associated with the Mennonite colony Tierra Blanca 1. Data: Planet, MAAP. Click to enlarge.
Deforestation between January 2020 (left panel) and October 2020 (right panel), associated with the Mennonite colony Tierra Blanca 1. Data: Planet, MAAP. Click to enlarge.

 

 

Very High Resolution Satellite Image (Skysat)

We recently obtained a very high resolution (0.5 meter) satellite image of the Tierra Blanca 1 colony, thanks to the company Planet and their Skysat fleet. The image allows enhanced visualization of some details of the deforested area, such as roads, buildings, and cleared land for likely agricultural activities. Click to enlarge.

Very high resolution satellite image (0.5 meters) over the Tierra Blanca 1 colony. Data: Planet (Skysat). Click to enlarge.
Very high resolution satellite image (0.5 meters) over the Tierra Blanca 1 colony. Data: Planet (Skysat). Click to enlarge.

 

Legality Statement

Regarding the findings in Loreto (Tierra Blanca), we consulted with the Regional Government of Loreto who, in a document dated October 15, 2020, indicated that the Mennonite colonies do not have any approvals for the large-scale forest clearing in the area. The documented also indicated that they were coordinating with the environmental prosecutor’s office (known as FEMA) to investigate the case and its environmental impact.

Regarding the findings in Ucayali (Massisea), our investigations revealed that there is an investigation in progress by the environmental prosecutor’s office (FEMA). In addition, the regional government has initiated a sanctioning procedure for the alleged unauthorized land use change (deforestation) associated with Mennonite colony near Masisea.

 

Annex

We present a time series of satellite images ranging from 1985 to 2020 that shows that the major deforestation in the area began with the Mennonite intervention.

Time series of satellite images ranging from 1985 to 2020 that shows that the major deforestation in the area began with the Mennonite intervention.

Time series of satellite images ranging from 1985 to 2020 that shows that the major deforestation in the area began with the Mennonite intervention.

 

Annex. Deforestation in 2020 in relation to 2017-19, associated with Mennonite colony Tierra Blanca 1. Data: MAAP.

 

Acknowledgements

We thank S. Novoa and G. Palacios for helpful comments to earlier versions of this report.

This work was supported by the following major funders: Erol Foundation, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), and International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC).

 

Citation

Finer M, Mamani N, Suarez D (2020) MAAP: Mennonite Colonies Continue Major Deforestation in Peruvian Amazon Peruana. MAAP: 27.

 

Letter from our ED: Why the Amazon Still Matters

In the 1990s, deforestation in the Amazon was a big news story. While now less prominent in the mainstream media in the Letter from our ED- Why the Amazon Still MattersU.S., protection of the planet’s richest forest is more critical than ever, especially as we seek to halt global climate change.

This week, El Comercio, Peru’s leading newspaper, published an alarming story based on Amazon Conservation’s forest monitoring program showing the rapid devastation caused by illegal gold mining across wide swaths of southern Amazon forests. Unsustainable agricultural expansion, illegal logging, and large infrastructure projects also threaten this great wilderness. If current rates of deforestation continue, it is estimated that more than half of the Amazon may be destroyed or severely damaged by 2030. This would be an incredible loss for the planet and affect us all, as the rainforest stores 80 to 120 billion tons of carbon, stabilizing the world’s climate, and produces 20% of the oxygen we breathe.

Letter from our ED_HannahPortraitOur deforestation analysis also highlights what’s working in the Amazon. As reported by El Comercio, Peru’s Park Service in cooperation with other government entities, including the Army and Environmental Prosecutor’s office, successfully halted recent invasions by illegal gold mining inside the spectacular forests and rivers of the Tambopata National Reserve! Local communities also play a key role in protection, like the indigenous community of Matoriato which recently declared a 4,000 acre conservation area on their ancestral communal territory with our assistance. invite you to support these forest guardians whose work on the ground help save this global treasure.

Letter from our ED_HannahSignature

Hannah Stutzman, Executive Director

Patterns, trends and drivers of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon: What you need to know 

As the world’s largest rainforest covering nine countries, the Amazon rainforest has been known as Earth’s lungs for generations. However, as a resource-rich forest, it continues to be deforested at staggering rate. To combat that, our MAAP project was launched over 2 years ago to help not only monitor the deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon in near real-time, but also to empower local authorities with key information so they can act before it gets to a point of no return. So far 50 MAAP threat alerts have been issued. Here is what we have learned about the patterns, trends and drivers of deforestation in this key area of the Amazon rainforest.

Trends – What has been the progression of deforestation?
During the 15 years between 2001 and 2015, around 4,448,000 acres of Peruvian Amazon forest have been deforested, with a steadily increasing trend. 2014 had the highest annual forest loss on record (438,775 acres), followed by a slight decrease  in 2015. The preliminary estimate for 2016 indicates that forest loss remains relatively high. The vast majority (80%) of forest loss events in the Peruvian Amazon are small-scale (<13 acres), while large-scale events (>125 acres) pose a latent threat due to new agro-industrial projects.

Hotspots –  Where is the deforestation taking place?
We have identified at least 8 major deforestation hotspots. The most intense hotspots are located in the central Amazon (Huánuco and Ucayali) of Peru. Other important hotspots are located in Madre de Dios and San Martin, two areas that have long been plagued by illegal gold mining. Two legally protected conservation areas (Tambopata National Reserve and El Sira Communal Reserve) are currently threatened by these hotspots, since invasions to these protected areas are not uncommon.

Drivers – What are the key factors that are driving deforestation? 
By analyzing high-resolution satellite imagery, we have documented six major drivers of deforestation and degradation: small/medium-scale agriculture, large-scale agriculture, cattle pasture, gold mining, illegal coca cultivation, and road creation. Small-scale agriculture and cattle pastures are likely the most dominant drivers of deforestation overall. Gold mining is a major driver in southern Peru. Large-scale agriculture and major new roads are latent threats. Logging roads are likely a major source of forest degradation in central Peru.

Check out a full analysis with graphics over at http://maaproject.org/2017/maap-synthesis2/