Over the past year, Brazilian Amazon deforestation has increased by an alarming 15 percent, according to the National Institute for Space Research. 2,654 square kilometers of vegetation in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Para were lost according to a satellite photo analysis. The year before, 2,295 square kilometers were destroyed.
DETER, the satellite system used to come up with these numbers, uses real time detections to display when more than 61 acres of land is destroyed in an area. Occasional cloud cover occasionally affects the results, but they manage to be remarkably accurate.
Brazil has 5.3 million square kilometers of forest and jungles, primarily in the Amazon river basin, which unfortunately only has 1.7 million under state protection. The rest has either unidentified or under private ownership.
Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country, and Amazon deforestation makes the country one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. Deforestation rates have declined since its peak in 2004 of 27,000 square kilometers, due in part to DETER. A goal was put in place at the 2009 UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, for Brazil to reduce Amazon deforestation by 80 percent by the year 2020.
So little is known about the Amazon by most peopl around the world, but soon we will be able to see some of it through Google Street View. This may help many more of us understand the importance of this valuable area of the world.