Disaster/Environmental Management

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Deforestation Monitoring Program in Brazil

'Fishbone' deforestation patterns in the Brazilian Amazon in 2006

Brazil has made significant advances in monitoring the level of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has been monitoring Amazonia deforestation since 1988, through the Brazilian Amazonian Forest Monitoring by Satellite (PRODES) and the Real Time Deforestation Detection System (DETER) programs (Dupas et al., 2008)[1]. PRODES uses data from Landsat satellites and China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellites (CBERS), while DETER uses data from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors on-board NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites. The data generated is then used by Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and the Brazilian Federal Police to detect areas of deforestation for operational and law enforcement purposes. The DETER and PRODES programs are a step towards Brazil reaching its international commitments such as the Copenhagen accord, which aims to reduce deforestation by 80% by 2020 (Nature Blog, 2011)[2]. These programs have also been crucial in negotiations towards future climate change agreements (Kintisch, 2007)[3].

Brazil deforestation data (1988-2011) Source: Nature Blog, 2001

In the 1990s, Brazil had probably the world’s highest deforestation rate, but it started curbing in 2004, aiming to become a CO2 sink by 2020 (Barrionuevo 2012[4].). Monitoring policies have stimulated law enforcement of deforestation measures, blacklisting, and even jailing offenders.. These policies also helped to optimize land use for cattle growing and farming, as well as helping forest conservation while maintaining Brazil first in the rank of world food producers (The Economist, 2010). Still to be solved are the clashes between environmentalists and agribusiness, who have been fighting for an adequate revision of the 47-year old Brazilian Forest Code (Nature Blog, 2011)[2].


  1. Dupas, et al., 2008. [online]. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. Vol. XXXVII. Part B8. Available from: <http://www.isprs.org/proceedings/XXXVII/congress/8_pdf/11_WG-VIII-11/09.pdf.>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nature Blog, 2011. Brazil: Amazon deforestation declines to record low [online]. Available from: <http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/12/brazil_amazon_deforestation_de.html>. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Nature" defined multiple times with different content
  3. Kintisch, E., 2007. [online]. Improved Monitoring of Rainforests Helps Pierce Haze of Deforestation. Science, (316), pp.536-537.
  4. Barrionuevo, A., 2012. [online]. Available from: <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/world/americas/in-brazil-protection-of-amazon-rainforest-takes-a-step-back.html>