Skip to main content

Growing fears of a repeat of 2019 fires as Amazon deforestation continues

by Futures Centre, Jul 23
2 minutes read

From January to April 2020, the rate of Amazon deforestation alerts rose sharply by 55%, according to data gathered by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and its real-time satellite detection system (Deter-B).

Despite the Amazon region being a pandemic hotspot, the reduced reach and resources of environmental enforcement agencies in Brazil is believed to be emboldening illegal wood harvesting operators, who are supported by a gig economy of poorly paid, informal workers ignoring COVID-19 lockdown measures.

So what?

Contrary to the hopes of many experts, the pandemic is not slowing deforestation in the Amazon. A confluence of land owners and land speculators, middlemen and resellers, and some retailers willing to turn a blind eye continues to see contamination of the global timber supply chain with illegally cut hardwoods. The selective cutting and clearing of high value trees also involves the formation of access roads, paving the way for land speculation and the clearing of the remaining forest for cattle, soy or other crops.

Enforcement actions by the country’s main environmental protection agency, the Brazilian Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources Institute (ibama) has fallen sharply over the last two years. In 2019, Ibama reported 128 instances of environmental crimes, a 55 percent decrease from the year before. The amount of illegally logged timber seized by the agency fell by nearly 64 percent from 2018 to 2019.

These trends, combined with a drier than normal rainy season, make some commentators fear that the deforestation and burning of 2019 which led to a global outcry and the belated deployment of the Brazilian army, could be surpassed during the dry season of 2020. 

There also remains the possibility of increased COVID-19 infections in the region, with indigenous people experiencing heightened exposure as more loggers enter the forest during the dry season between August and October. The creation of huge volumes of ash and smoke will also exacerbate the symptoms of respiratory disease.

Signal spotted by: Anonymous


Image source


by Futures Centre Spotted 1994 signals

Have you spotted a signal of change?

Register to receive the latest from the Futures Centre.
Sign up

  • 0
  • Share

Join discussion

Related signals

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work, please see our 'Cookies page'.