Brazil's Southeast Region has slightly reduced deforestation in 2020

Data from the Annual Report on Deforestation in Brazil for Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais presented and discussed in a webinar show the challenges for zero deforestation in the region

The Annual Report on Deforestation in Brazil - 2020, produced using data from MapBiomas Alerta, revealed a 2% decrease in total deforestation in the Southeast region of Brazil compared to the previous year. In 2020, 26,159 hectares were deforested in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, São Paulo and Minas Gerais. In 2019, this number was 26,811 hectares.

Despite the reduction, it is still necessary to combat illegal deforestation in the region, as occurs throughout the country. Actions that have already been taken and proposals for new solutions were discussed in an online event, this Friday (2). The MapBiomas team and representatives of environmental agencies and the Public Ministry presented regional data and showed how they integrate their systems and projects with what they extract from MapBiomas Alerta.

The Southeast region is formed by three biomes: Atlantic Forest, Cerrado and Caatinga and all of them have been deforested. 30% of the loss of native vegetation occurred in the Forest Formation; 61% in Savannah Formation; and 9% in Grassland.

The Southeast accounts for only almost 2% of deforestation that took place across the country. It is important to highlight that it is a region where great degradation has already occurred and that, even with this total decrease, three of the four states still had significant increases in deforestation.

In Minas Gerais, there was a 48% increase in the number of identified alerts, but a reduction in the average area, which resulted in a 4% reduction in the total deforested area. "It is not possible to speculate on the reason for the reduction, mainly because it is still a short time series," said Marcos Rosa, coordinator of the Mata Atlântica team at MapBiomas and technical coordinator of Mapbiomas. "We know that the peak of deforestation is concentrated at the beginning of the year due to the Cerrado in Minas Gerais, which is more extensive than the Atlantic Forest area – where deforestation is more concentrated at the end of the year."

Data from MapBiomas show that 73.6% of settlements fall on private properties, that is, where it is possible to identify the cause only through the remote system. In addition, it is necessary to highlight the role of the State Public Prosecutor's Office and the "Mata Atlântica Em Pé" operation, which has been expanding, acting on these detected alerts. In 2020, 650 alerts were issued in the entire Atlantic Forest, which represents an area of ​​6,000 ha of deforestation. A total of more than R$32.5 million in fines was applied.

The Annual Report on Deforestation in Brazil, for the second consecutive year, presents uniform data with methodology, making it possible to measure and compare the size of the problem, allowing the monitoring and management of deforested areas in all biomes in the country. “The data help to understand the scenario and seek solutions, to build paths and deal with the challenges,” said the coordinator of institutional articulation at MapBiomas, Magaly Oliveira.

Highlights of the Southeast region in the Annual Report on Deforestation in Brazil - 2020:

  • 1,436 alerts detected, validated and refined (increase of 50% compared to 2019)
  • 26,159 hectares of deforestation (decrease of 2% compared to 2019)
  • In almost all the states in the region, an increase in deforestation was recorded compared to the previous year, except in Minas Gerais – even though it still has the largest area deforested – therefore, the drop in the total area
  • Minas Gerais was the state with the largest total deforested area: 25,194.9 hectares (96% of the total deforested in the Southeast)
  • São Paulo had a loss of 406 hectares of native vegetation (an increase of 10% compared to the previous year - 369.4 ha), which corresponds to not even 2% of the deforestation detected in the region.
  • In Rio de Janeiro, deforestation was 317 hectares (1% of deforestation in the region). In 2019 there were 125 ha, that is, an increase of 154%
  • Espírito Santo had deforestation of 241.7 hectares (1% of deforestation in the region), an increase of 125% compared to 2019 (107.3 ha)
  • In the Southeast, 387 municipalities were registered with deforestation, out of a total of 1668, that is, 23% of the cities
  • The 10 most deforested municipalities in 2020 belong to the state of Minas Gerais
  • The municipality with the largest deforested area in Minas Gerais was Buritizeiro (1,337 ha); in Rio de Janeiro, it was Belford Roxo (84.3 ha); in Espírito Santo, it was Aracruz (41.81ha); and in São Paulo, it was Natividade da Serra (33ha).

Access the full 2020 Annual Deforestation Report on the MapBiomas Alerta website.