Every second, about 21 trees were cut down in the Amazon in 2022

Deforestation in 2022 indicates that the activity is carried out on a large scale: 234.8 ha per hour, or 5,636 ha per day, on average - an increase of 24.3% compared to 2021. In the Amazon alone 3,267.5 ha were deforested per day, or 136.1 ha per hour. This is equivalent to 2.3 ha per minute and means that about 21 trees were felled every second. The Cerrado is in second place, with 1,807.3 ha per day, equivalent to 75.3 ha per hour. The increase in speed was observed in all biomes except the Atlantic Forest, where it remained stable.

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The data are part of the latest MapBiomas Annual Report on Deforestation in Brazil, which consolidates data from the whole country and its biomes, released on Monday (12).

The average speed per deforestation alert also had an increase in 2022: 0.18 ha/alert/day in 2021 rose to 0.20 ha/alert/day. On average, 239 new deforestation events were detected and validated per day in 2022; in 2021 there were 191.

The maximum average deforestation speed for a single deforestation event was reached in the alert code 617708, in the municipality of Alto Parnaíba, Maranhão. It was 239 ha/day of Cerrado, allowing 1,913 ha to be deforested in just nine days, between 11/06/2022 and 19/06/2022. In the Amazon, the highest average maximum velocity observed was 36.3 ha/day in the alert with code 600321, located in the municipality of Novo Aripuanã, in Amazonas. In the Pantanal, the alert with the highest average maximum velocity observed was 25.5 ha/day, in Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul.

The speed can be linked to the high investment in the activity: deforesters have the money to deforest at this speed, with machinery.

More and more deforested areas

There was a 19.3% increase in the amount of deforestation of more than 100 ha per alert in 2022. Despite representing only 4.8% of the total number of alerts, they account for 60.6% of the total deforested areas in the country. Deforested areas of less than 25 ha represent 81.9% of the total number of alerts, but only 15% of the deforested area.

As a direct consequence of the higher speed of deforestation, the average area deforested per alert reached 27 ha, an increase of 14.8% compared to 2021. In the Cerrado and the Amazon, however, the growth was much higher: 48.7% and 21.2%, respectively. But it is the Pantanal biome with the largest average area deforested per alert: 117.3 ha. The Cerrado comes next, with 104.8 ha.

The Atlantic Forest and Pampa have the smallest average areas per deforestation (3.8 ha and 7.4 ha, respectively), which can be explained by the greater fragmentation of the landscape and by the land ownership structure, with smaller rural properties, in comparison with the other biomes.

The Timetable of Destruction

Although the dynamics of deforestation in the biomes shows differences, the day with the largest deforested area in 2022 was July 25, with 6,945 ha deforested. This is equivalent to 804 m2 per second or 4.8 ha per minute. In just 24 hours, an area equivalent to 8,400 soccer fields was deforested.

The deforestation peaks per biome, however, vary. In the Caatinga, the peak of deforestation occurred in the first fortnight of February. In the Atlantic Forest, it was at the end of March, unlike 2021, when the peak was reached in August. In the Cerrado, the peak happened in the beginning of April. In the Pantanal, it was in the first half of June. In the Amazon, it was at the end of July. In the Pampa, it was in the second half of September.

>> Access the complete report and the highlights of RAD 2022