17.5% OF BRAZIL HAS BURNED AT LEAST ONCE IN 20 YEARS
Most of the fire reaches native vegetation; civil society initiative launched today (3/12) maps scars from burning across the territory
In the past 20 years, 1.5 million square kilometers of Brazil, or about 17.5% of its territory, have burned at least once. It is almost the entire Northeast region. When it caught fire, most of the area, 68%, was covered with native vegetation, while 32% was used for agriculture, including activities such as clearing land for pasture and recently deforested terrains. On average, an area of 177,000 km2 burns every year, or 2.1% of the country.
The new data are part of an initiative launched today (3/12), MapBiomas Fogo. For the first time, information on the area burned each year in Brazil is consolidated from 2000 to 2019, with location, frequency and the type of coverage and associated land use, such as forest, savanna, agriculture or pasture, among others. It is part of the 5th annual collection of maps of coverage and land use in Brazil of the MapBiomas project, available at http://platform.mapbiomas.org .
More than 330,000 km² of the existing forests in Brazil today have caught fire in the last 20 years and of these, 195 thousand km 2 (59%) have burned twice or more. “Fire in tropical forests is not natural. It is caused mainly by human action fed by a drier environment, which makes the fire escape from a pasture or a deforested area, for example, and enter the forest ”, explains the director of Science at IPAM (Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia), Ane Alencar, coordinator of the group that did the work. "The high frequency in some regions reinforces the human role in this process of degradation."
This is what happens in the Amazon: 28.7% of the total area burned in 20 years was recorded there, in an environment where fire should be rare – half of the 427,000 km2 affected burned more than once in the same place. Without man, fire in this biome occurs every 500 to a 1,000 years.
In terms of area, the Cerrado was the most affected biome in the period: 41% of its extension was affected by fire at least once, and 76% of what burned there was native vegetation. “The Cerrado, unlike the Amazon, is a biome that has evolved with fire. Even so, changes in the landscape can have an impact on the incidence of fires ”, explains Alencar.
When considering land tenure aspects, 59% of the area burned over the past 20 years was within private areas, 18% in protected areas and 6% in settlements.
High in 2019
In the last year, more than 203,000 km2 were burned, representing 2.4% of the territory, 72% of which occurred in native vegetation and 28% in places of agricultural use. The area burned in 2019 was 55% larger than in 2018, when fire scars totaled 130,500 km2 .
When we look at the growth by biome, the Pantanal showed an unbelievable 996% increase in burnt area in 2019 compared to 2018. In the Amazon, the burnt area grew 65%. In the Cerrado, the expansion of the area affected by the fire was 40%.
“Mapping is fundamental to understanding the fire regime in Brazil, which leads to the degradation of native vegetation and has an impact on people's health, climate change, biodiversity and the economy”, says the coordinator of MapBiomas, Tasso Azevedo.
The MapBiomas Fogo platform will provide data on fire scars every year, from 2000 to 2019, indicating the affected land use coverage. Data on accumulated areas and frequency of scarring are also available for each of the biomes, states, municipalities, hydrographic basins and protected areas of Brazil.
MapBiomas is a multi-institutional initiative, involving universities, NGOs and technology companies, focused on monitoring changes in land cover and use in Brazil. This platform is today the most complete, updated and detailed spatial database of land use in a country available in the world. Other MapBiomas initiatives are under development in Indonesia, across the Pan-Amazon, in addition to Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. All MapBiomas data, maps, methods and codes are made available publicly and free of charge on the initiative's website: mapbiomas.org
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Accumulated reduction is 87.2 million hectares, shows Collection 5 by MapBiomas. Updated maps and data on land use and land cover will be released this Friday (28).
Friday, August 28, 2020
Updated maps and data from MapBiomas show that Brazil lost 87.2 million hectares of areas of native vegetation, from 1985 to 2019. This is equivalent to 10.25% of the national territory. The pace of loss of native vegetation accelerated in Brazil between 2018 and 2019. This is what is shown in Collection 5 of MapBiomas.
The historical series of maps and annual data on land cover and use in the country, from 1985 to 2019, was presented this Friday (28th), at the 5th Annual MapBiomas Seminar: Revealing Land Use in Brazil with Science and Transparency . The event was broadcast on YouTube and Facebook.
The update of the platform, for public use and free of charge, brings new features and layers of information, such as the evolution of the irrigation area, the evaluation of the quality of pastures and the mapping of natural vegetation in regeneration throughout the national territory.
Data from MapBiomas Collection 5 show that more than half of the loss of native vegetation in Brazil (44 Mha) occurred in the Amazon. In the Cerrado, the reduction was 28.5 Mha. Among the six Brazilian biomes, it was the one that most lost native vegetation in proportional terms: 21.3%
Pampa also had a high rate of decrease in remaining vegetation cover: 20% (2.3 Mha). On the other hand, the area of planted forests in the Rio Grande do Sul biome grew 4.9 times.
In the Pantanal, the loss of native vegetation was 12%, with a 4.7-fold increase in the total area of planted pastures. In the Caatinga, the fall in the area of remaining vegetation was 11%, with an expansion of 26% for agriculture and livestock.
In the Atlantic Forest, 57% of the country's urban areas are found. The area of urban infrastructure in the biome grew 2.5 times from 1985 to 2019; the area of agriculture has doubled.
Of all the loss of natural vegetation in Brazil, including forest, savannah, fields and mangroves, at least 90% was occupied by agricultural use, whose expansion was 78 million hectares (43% growth since 1985)
MapBiomas Collection 5: more data, more depth, more transparency
Among the novelties of Collection 5 are deforestation and regeneration data, such as the rate of loss of native vegetation by biome and views of the territories where, proportionally, there is more secondary vegetation.
Although the country has 66.8% of the territory covered by native vegetation, this does not mean that they are preserved areas. "The MapBiomas survey points out that at least 9.3% of all natural vegetation in Brazil is secondary, that is, they are areas that have already been deforested and converted to human use at least once", explains Tasso Azevedo, general coordinator MapBiomas. "Of the area that has never been deforested, there is a fraction that has already been degraded by fire or predatory logging. Quantifying this process of forest degradation is one of the next challenges that we will face", he adds.
Monitoring of agricultural areas included data on irrigation, temporary crops such as soy and cane, and perennials, as well as improvements in the mapping of pastures and agriculture in Brazil.
Among the works in experimental and unprecedented version, is the evaluation of the quality of pastures in Brazil for the years 2010 and 2018. “The data show that there was an important evolution. The area of pasture with signs of degradation fell from 72% to just over 60% in 8 years ”, says the professor at UFG and coordinator of the MapBiomas pasture team, Laerte Ferreira. Understanding the degree of degradation of pastures is essential both to control greenhouse gas emissions and to improve productivity and reduce the pressure on deforestation in biomes. “Degraded pastures emit carbon, while well managed ones capture carbon in the soil”, he explains.
MapBiomas' annual coverage and land use maps of Brazil have a resolution of 30 meters (each pixel represents an area of 30 meters x 30 meters). The collection can be downloaded and used in geographic information systems or accessed through the web platform available at plataforma.mapbiomas.org. It is possible to view the data in territorial sections of biomes, states, municipalities, indigenous lands, conservation units, transport infrastructure, energy, mining and hydrographic basins; maps and statistics modules for deforestation / suppression and recovery of forests and native vegetation in all biomes in the country; as well as infographics and a mural map of Brazil and each biome. The tool is public and free.
Webinars will deepen Collection 5 data by biome and cross-cutting themes
In September and October, MapBiomas will promote two webinars a week to present the novelties of Collection 5 by biome and cross-cutting themes, discussing the data collected with experts and users of the platform.
"The webinars will allow a more in-depth debate on the situation and the evolution of activities in each biome, qualifying the debate on the sustainable use of Brazilian territory", says Júlia Shimbo, a researcher at IPAM and a scientific coordinator at MapBiomas.
The online events will take place on Tuesdays and Fridays, between September 4 and October 9, always from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm, with transmission on YouTube.
- Amazon (04.09)
- Caatinga (08.09)
- Cerrado (11.09)
- Atlantic Forest (15.09)
- Pasture (18.09)
- Pampa (22.09)
- Pantanal (25.09)
- Coastal Zone (29.09)
- Fire (02.10)
- Agriculture, Irrigation and Planted Forests (06.10)
- Cities, Infrastructure and Mining (09.10)
Sign up for the webinars: https://bit.ly/VseminarioMapBiomas
About MapBiomas: multi-institutional initiative, involving universities, NGOs and technology companies, focused on monitoring changes in land cover and use in Brazil. This platform is today the most complete, updated and detailed spatial database of land use in a country available in the world. Other MapBiomas initiatives are under development in Indonesia, across the Pan-Amazon, in addition to Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. All MapBiomas data, maps, methods and codes are made available publicly and free of charge on the initiative's website: mapbiomas.org
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