Brazil lost 24 trees per second in 2020

Unpublished report by MapBiomas Alert for the whole country shows that deforestation rose 14% last year; 99.8% of deforestation shows signs of illegality and only 2% had any action taken by Ibama


Deforestation in the six Brazilian biomes grew 13.6% in 2020, reaching 13,853 km2 (1,385,300 hectares), an area nine times larger than the city of São Paulo. Of this total, 61% are on Amazon. This is shown by an unprecedented analysis of 74,218 deforestation alerts across the country, published this Friday by the MapBiomas Alert Project.

Deforestation grew 9% in the Amazon, 6% in the Cerrado, 43% in the Pantanal and 99% in the Pampa. In the Atlantic Forest it exploded, rising 125%. In Caatinga the growth was 405%, but it was due to the fact that the biome now has a new deforestation detection system designed specifically for the biome.

MapBiomas Alert analyse alerts provided by five deforestation detection systems using high-resolution images and artificial intelligence to validate, refine and produce reports on every alert detected. The alerts are cross referenced with land tenure and territorial boundaries as well as administrative information. The analyses shows that almost all deforestation alerts issued last year have one or more signs of illegality: 99.8% of them, equivalent to 95% of the deforested area, do not have authorization or overlap with protected areas or violate the Forests Code.

The evidence of illegality achieve over 95% of the alerts in all biomes. It is lower in the Cerrado, where 97.78% of the deforestation alert area has at least one sign of irregularity – be it lack of authorization in Sinaflor, the IBAMA system where, in theory, all deforestation requests need to be registered and released, whether overlapping with protected areas, sustainable forest management plans or non-compliance with the Forest Code. In the Amazon, it is 99.4%. The conclusion is similar to that of the first deforestation report by MapBiomas, which last year showed that 99% of deforestation in 2019 had signs of irregularity.

However, the number of deforestation warnings that received a response from the federal government is very low: only 2% of alerts and 5% of the area deforested between 2019 and 2020 were fined or embargoed by Ibama until April 2021. In the case of the Amazon, in the 52 municipalities considered critical by the Ministry of the Environment's policies, 2% of the alerts and 9.3% of the deforested area were punished. In the 11 municipalities defined by the Amazon Council as the highest priority, 3% of the alerts and 12% of the deforested area had actions of this type.

Only 50 out of 5570 municipalities concentrate 37.2% of alerts and 49.2% of the deforested area in the country. They are led by Altamira (PA, with 60,608 hectares, an increase of 12% compared to 2019), São Félix do Xingu (PA, 45,587 hectares) and Porto Velho (RO, 44,076 hectares). Of the 20 most deforested municipalities, only three are outside the Amazon: Formosa do Rio Preto and São Desidério, in the Cerrado of Bahia, and Corumbá, in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul.

The State of Pará leads the ranking of deforestation in the country, with 33% of alerts and 26% of the total deforested area (366 thousand hectares), followed by Mato Grosso, with 13%, and Maranhão, with 12%.

Data from MapBiomas Alerta show that in at least two-thirds of the alerts it is possible to identify those responsible for deforestation: 68.3% of the validated detections have total or partial overlap with areas registered in the CAR, the Rural Environmental Registry. In Pantanal and Amazônia, this number is even higher: 84.8% and 69.2%, respectively. In other words, in theory, these owners could be fined remotely, even by mail, since in order to be registered in the CAR, it is necessary to provide the applicant's data.

The report also presents an unprecedented calculation of the speed of deforestation: for the first time it was possible to estimate how much of Brazil's native vegetation cover every day in 2020: an average of 3,795 hectares were deforested, which gives an estimated loss of 24 trees every second during the year. On the most critical day of deforestation, July 31, 4,968 hectares were deforested, almost 575 m2 per second.

"Unfortunately, deforestation has grown in all biomes and the degree of illegality remains very high. It is necessary to ensure that deforestation is detected and reported and that those responsible are duly penalized and are not able to benefit from deforested areas", says Tasso Azevedo, general coordinator of MapBiomas. "In more than two thirds of the cases, it is also possible to know who is responsible. It is necessary for the enforcement agencies to fine and seize illegally deforested areas and for companies to eliminate these areas from their supply chains."


MapBiomas Alerta is an initiative of the MapBiomas consortium, formed by more than 20 organizations including NGOs, universities and technology companies. It processes deforestation alerts issued by five systems: Deter (from Inpe, for the Amazon and the Cerrado), the SAD (from Imazon, for the Amazon), the Glad (from the University of Maryland, for the Atlantic Forest, Pantanal and Pampa ), Sirad-X (from Instituto Socioambiental, for the Xingu basin), and the new SAD Caatinga (from Feira de Santana State University and Geodatin).

The alerts undergo a process of validation, refinement and definition of the temporal window of occurrence of deforestation based on daily satellite images of high spatial resolution. Then, the deforestation data are crossed with territorial areas (such as biomes, states and municipalities), land areas (Rural Environmental Registry, Conservation Units and Indigenous Lands, for example) and administrative situation (such as the existence of authorization, assessment or embargo) and complete reports prepared for each deforestation alert.

All data and reports are made available publicly and free of charge on a web platform. The complete report with all data is available on the MapBiomas Alerta website.