Deforestation in the Amazon hits a record high for the month of January

Brazilian Space Agency INPE estimates that 430 km² of forest were cleared in just one month, a five-fold increase from January 2021

by Katie Nelson

February 11, 2022

“Even in January, when deforestation is usually lower due to the rainy season in the Amazon region, destruction has dramatically skyrocketed."

Amazonas State, Brazil – New data from the Brazilian Space Agency INPE’s DETER-B deforestation monitoring system registered the highest rate of deforestation for the month of January since DETER-B launched in 2016. In January alone, the alerts estimated that 430 km² of rainforest was cleared, an increase of more than 418 percent compared to January 2021. These record numbers occurred despite more rain in January than last year at this time, according to Inpe data. Deforestation alerts are mainly concentrated in the states of Mato Grosso, Rondônia, and Pará.

Cristiane Mazzetti, spokeswoman for Greenpeace Brazil, said: 

“Even in January, when deforestation is usually lower due to the rainy season in the Amazon region, destruction has dramatically skyrocketed. Just weeks ago, this government had delayed the release of annual deforestation numbers that revealed a massive increase and then told the world that it was resolving deforestation in Glasgow. The new data yet again exposes how the government’s actions contradict its greenwashing campaigns.

“The government, in fact, has created a golden opportunity for those who want to clear forests illegally or seize public lands; there is a deliberate lack of environmental inspection and many of those behind this wave of illegal deforestation are also expecting the Brazilian congress to pass legislation that will reward land-grabbing a practice connected with at least one third of all deforestation in the Amazon.” 

A Greenpeace Brazil analysis found that 22.5 percent of the areas cleared between the 1st and 21st of January occurred in the unearmarked public lands, a frequent target for landgrabbers. The Brazilian Senate is currently considering a law that would create pathways to legitimize prior land-grabs of public lands. Scientists and experts have found that the law has the potential to stimulate massive deforestation

Diana Ruiz, Senior Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, said: 

“Behind these destructive laws is the agribusiness lobby’s powerful influence. If these bills pass, it will pave the way for legalizing more destruction and put both Indigenous Peoples’ rights and lives at even further threat. The U.S. has a responsibility to act and needs to stop encouraging Brazil’s plans by looking the other way or propping up carbon market schemes which will send the world’s largest rainforest – a vital ecosystem in the fight against the climate crisis – to its tipping point.”  


Katie Nelson, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (678) 644-1681, [email protected] 

Katie Nelson

By Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson is a Senior Communications Specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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