An unprecedented MapBiomas Alert report for the whole country shows that deforestation rose by 14% last year; 99.8% of deforestation was found to be illegal and only 2% had any action taken by Ibama

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

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

The data, from the MapBiomas Alert system, cross-references information from five real-time satellite deforestation detection systems and validates them with high-resolution images using artificial intelligence. The cross-referencing shows that almost all of the deforestation alerts issued last year have one or more signs of illegality: 99.8% of them, equivalent to 95% of the deforested area, have no authorization or overlap with protected areas or disrespect the Forest Code.

The rate of probable illegality is higher than 95% in all biomes. It is lowest in the Cerrado, where 97.78% of the area of deforestation alerts has at least one indication of irregularity - be it a lack of authorization in Sinaflor, Ibama's system where, in theory, all deforestation requests need to be registered and released, or an overlap 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 MapBiomas' first deforestation report, which last year showed that 99% of deforestation in 2019 showed signs of irregularity.

However, the number of deforestation warnings that were responded to by the federal government is very low: only 2% of the warnings and 5% of the area deforested between 2019 and 2020 were fined or embargoed by Ibama. 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 having the highest priority, 3% of the alerts and 12% of the deforested area were punished.

Just 50 municipalities account for 37.2% of the 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 (366,000 hectares), followed by Mato Grosso, with 13%, and Maranhão, with 12%.

MapBiomas Alert data shows 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 a total or partial overlap with areas registered in the CAR, the Rural Environmental Registry. In the Pantanal and the Amazon, this figure is even higher: 84.8% and 69.2%, respectively. In other words, in theory, these landowners could be fined even by mail, since in order to register with the CAR, the applicant's data must be provided.

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

"Unfortunately, deforestation has increased in all biomes and the level of illegality remains very high. In order to tackle deforestation, we need to dispel the feeling of impunity. To do this, we need to ensure that deforestation is detected and reported and that those responsible are duly penalized and are unable to benefit from the deforested areas," says Tasso Azevedo, general coordinator of MapBiomas. "In more than two thirds of cases, it is also possible to know who is responsible. Control bodies need to penalize and embargo illegally deforested areas and companies need to eliminate these areas from their production chains."


MapBiomas Alert is an initiative of the MapBiomas consortium, made up of 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 Cerrado), SAD (from Imazon, for the Amazon), Glad (from the University of Maryland, for the Atlantic Forest, Pantanal and Pampa), Sirad-X (from the Socio-Environmental Institute, for the Xingu basin), and the new SAD Caatinga (from the State University of Feira de Santana and Geodatin).

The alerts go through a process of validation, refinement and definition of the time window for the occurrence of deforestation based on daily satellite images with high spatial resolution. The deforestation data is then cross-referenced with territorial cut-offs (such as biomes, states and municipalities), land cut-offs (Rural Environmental Registry, Conservation Units and Indigenous Lands, for example) and administrative status (such as the existence of an authorization, notice or embargo) and complete reports are prepared for each deforestation alert.

All the data and reports are available publicly and free of charge - on a web platform. The full report with all the data is available on the MapBiomas Alert