Brazilian forest clearing comes in clumps


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Most of the Brazilian Amazon faces little danger of losing its forest any time soon. Famers in the Amazon concentrate their activities close to major roads and previously deforested areas. Outside the so-called ’arc of deforestation’ running along the southern and eastern edges of the Amazon and the area around the Transamazon Highway, deforestation remains limited. ’An Analysis of the Geographical Patterns of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in the 1991-1996 Period’ by Diogenes Alves of the Brazilian Space Agency, INPE, leave little doubt about that.

Alves does not downplay either the magnitude or the significance of the huge social and environmental changes that have taken place. Indeed, his figures show that in the five years the paper focuses on the region lost over nine million hectares of forest. He simply stresses that deforestation has been much more intense in certain areas.

Specifically, his analysis of Landsat satellite images demonstrates that of the total forest clearing:

82% was in Mato Grosso, Para, and Rondonia,

86% was less than 25 kilometers from areas deforested before 1978,

73% was less than 50 kilometers from the three major road networks, and

50% was in about 200 municipalities (201 to be precise).

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Further reading

You can find Diogenes Alves’ paper along with a large amount of other interesting material on Brazilian deforestation trends on the following home page:

If you have trouble down-loading papers from the web, you can request an electronic copy from Diogenes Alves at: You can also send comments to that same address.