Study shows that deforestation in 2021 grew in all biomes in Brazil

In three years the deforested area reached 42 thousand km2, almost the area of ​​the State of Rio de Janeiro

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>> Access the full report and highlights of RAD 2021

Brazil lost 16,557 km2 (1,655,782 ha) of native vegetation cover in all its biomes last year, according to the most recent edition of the Annual Report on Deforestation in Brazil (RAD), by MapBiomas. This is a 20% increase over the previous year. With the upward trend in deforestation in the last three years, Brazil lost almost a state of Rio de Janeiro of native vegetation. 

The average speed of deforestation in the country also increased, from 0.16 hectares/day for each deforestation event detected and validated in 2020 to 0.18 hectares/day in 2021. With a daily average of 191 new events, the area of deforestation per day in 2021 was 4,536 hectares – or 189 hectares per hour. In the Amazon alone, 111.6 hectares were deforested per hour or 1.9 hectares per minute, equivalent to about 18 trees per second.

The study, which refined and validated 69,796 deforestation alerts in 2021 throughout the national territory, individually evaluated each deforestation event, crossing data from protected areas, authorizations, and rural environmental register (CAR) and found evidence of irregularities in more than 98% of the cases. Only in 1.34% of the alerts (which correspond to 0.87% of the total deforested area) were no signs or evidence of irregularity found. This percentage of irregularity is in line with the 99% detected in previous reports (2019 and 2020).  

Deforestation alerts that cross with rural properties registered in the CAR correspond to 77% of the total deforested area. This means that in at least 3/4 of deforestation, it is possible to find a person responsible. There were 59,181 properties with deforestation detected in the country in 2021, representing 0.9% of rural properties registered in the CAR until 2021. There are 19,953 properties registered in the CAR that are repeat offenders due to deforestation registered in 2019 and/or 2020. When considering the period from 2019 to 2021, the number of properties with at least one detected deforestation event rises to 134,318, which represents 2.1% of Brazilian rural properties. In other words, no deforestation was detected in the last 3 years in almost 98% of rural properties.

To solve the problem of illegality, it is necessary to attack impunity — the risk of being penalized and held accountable for the illegal destruction of native vegetation must be real and properly perceived by environmental offenders”, explains Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of MapBiomas. “For this, it is necessary to act on three fronts, ensuring that: all deforestation is detected and reported; all illegal deforestation receives accountability and punishment of offenders (eg fines, embargo); the offender does not benefit from the illegally deforested area and receives some type of penalty (eg credit restrictions, CAR pending, impediment to land regularization, exclusion from production and supply chains).”

A novelty in this year's edition is the identification of the pressure vectors of deforestation, such as agriculture, prospecting, mining, urban expansion and others, such as pressure for the construction of wind and solar plants, mainly in the Northeast region. The numbers show the prevalence and stability in the pressure level of agriculture in the last three years when the activity was responsible for percentages of deforestation above 97%. In this scenario, the state of Pará differs in some areas where mining was an expressive vector of pressure. In areas close to capitals and large urban centers, the pressure was due to urban expansion. 

The proportion of deforested area by pressure vector in Brazil in 2019, 2020 and 2021

Pressure vectors




General Total











Industrial Mining










Urban Expansion


0, 1%



Throughout Brazil, deforested areas of less than 25 ha represent 82.8% of the total alerts, but only 22.8% of the deforested area. The alerts with more than 100 ha represent 4.4% of the alerts, but 51.7% of the total deforested in the country. In this category, there was an increase of 37.8% between 2020 and 2021. In 2021, 3,040 deforestation with more than 1 km2 (100 hectares) were found, with 107 of them exceeding 10 km2 or 1,000 hectares. For comparison, Central Park in New York is 3.41 km2 and Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo is 1.6 km2.

This report is the third in a series that aims to consolidate and analyze information on all deforestation detected in the six Brazilian biomes, by the multiple alert systems available, and that was validated, refined and published by MapBiomas Alerta project. It will be released this Monday (7/18) at 10:30 am in a webinar on YouTube.

Amazon concentrated 59% of the deforested area in 2021

The numbers leave no doubt that the Amazon was the great front of suppression of native vegetation in Brazil in the last three years. Data show that this biome concentrated 59% of the deforested area and 66.8% of deforestation alerts in 2021. More than 977 thousand hectares of native vegetation were destroyed last year - an increase of almost 15% in relation to the 851 thousand deforested hectares in 2020, which, in turn, had already represented a 10% increase in relation to the 771 thousand hectares of deforestation in 2019. 

In second place comes the Cerrado, with just over half a million hectares (30%), followed by the Caatinga, with more than 116 thousand hectares (7%). Even with less than 29% of its forest cover, 30,155 ha were deforested in the Atlantic Forest – 1.8% of the alert area. Despite being responsible for the smallest area of ​​alerts (0.1% of the total), Pampa almost doubled the amount deforested (92.1%). In the Pantanal, there was an increase of 50.5% in detected alerts and 15.7% in the deforested area between 2020 and 2021.

Together, the Amazon and Cerrado represented 89.2% of the deforested area detected in 2021. When added to the Caatinga, the three biomes accounted for 96.2% of the losses. 

The largest increases, in relation to the deforested area in 2020, occurred in the Amazon (126,680 ha) and in the Cerrado (83,981 ha), while in proportional terms, they occurred in the Caatinga (88.9%) and in the Pampa (92.1% ). In the case of Caatinga, the increase is related to the improvement of the new data source used by MapBiomas, SAD Caatinga, which specializes in detecting deforestation in dry forests in the biome.

  Area of ​​alerts validated in the biomes in 2019, 2020 and 2021







































































Although the Cerrado only accounts for 9.9% of the total number of alerts, the total deforested area represents almost a third of the total (30.2%). In the Amazon and Atlantic Forest biomes, deforestation predominates in forest formations. In the Cerrado, Caatinga, Pampa and Pantanal, other non-forest formations predominate. As the detection of deforestation in native non-forest vegetation is still deficient, the alerts in these classes are underestimated. The dynamics of deforestation in the biomes also showed differences in behavior in 2021. In the Cerrado, the peak of deforestation took place in the first half of May; in the Amazon, it was in the second week of July; in the Atlantic Forest and in the Pantanal it was in August; in the Pampa in October.

The states that most deforested

Of every four hectares deforested in Brazil in 2021, one was in Pará, where deforestation reached 402,492 ha (24.3% of the total). Amazonas, which was fourth in the ranking in 2020, now appears in second place, with 194,485 ha deforested, representing 11.8% of the total. Mato Grosso appeared in third, with a loss of 189,880 ha (11.5%), followed by Maranhão, with 167,047 ha (10.1%), and Bahia, with 152,098 ha (9.2%). Together, these 5 states accounted for 67% of the deforested area in Brazil in 2021.

Thirteen states surpassed the mark of 1,000 deforestation alerts in 2021; in 2020, there were 11 states, and in 2019, 10 states. There was growth in the deforested area in 20 states, remaining stable in two (TO and RR) and falling in only five (AL, SC, ES, RJ and AP). Among the states where deforestation grew the most in proportional terms are Pernambuco, Paraíba, Ceará, Minas Gerais and Sergipe, with an increase of more than 80% in the area detected. This reflects the growth in deforestation and also the improvement in the SAD Caatinga detection system. In absolute numbers, the biggest increases were in Amazonas (64,673 ha) and Bahia (46,160 ha).

Almost a quarter (Matopiba, where there was also a 14% increase in the deforested area compared to 2020. There were 5,206 alerts and 391.559 ha deforested. The Matopiba region was where most of the deforestation in the Cerrado was concentrated: around 73%. In the new frontier of deforestation in the Amazon - the region that is becoming known as Amacro (on the border of Amazonas, Acre and Rondônia) - the deforested area represented12.2% of the total in Brazil in 2021, with 6,858 alerts and 203.143 ha deforested. In 20218,.8% increase in deforestation compared to 2020.

Deforestation is higher in private areas

In Brazil, 69.5% of the entire deforested area in 2021 was on private properties, including 14.1% in rural settlements. Another 10.6% fell on public lands, being 9.3% on public lands not intended. Deforestation in protected areas accounted for 5.3% of the total, being 1.7% in Indigenous Lands and 3.6% in Conservation Units.

In the Pantanal and Cerrado biomes, most deforested areas are concentrated in private areas (94.1% and 75.9%, respectively). In the Caatinga, Atlantic Forest and Pampa biomes, the concentration of alerts occurs in land voids (unoccupied land or private areas not yet registered in the CAR). Also in the Amazon, the highest percentage of deforestation occurs in private areas (44.6%), followed by rural settlements (22.2%), public areas (17.2%) and protected areas (except APAs) with 8.5% . 

In the last three years (between 2019 and 2021), there has been an increase in deforestation in all land tenure categories, except for Indigenous Lands (TIs), which reinforces the importance of these territories for environmental preservation. The most expressive increases were in areas of empty land (88%), public areas not intended (47%) and private areas (32%). 

The area of ​​alerts with total overlap with areas with CAR reached 1,265,128 hectares, which represents 76% of the deforested area in the country. However, when considering the area of ​​alerts that also partially cross the CAR, this number rises to 1,445,066 hectares, or 87% of the deforested area in Brazil.

A third (33%) of all alerts detected in Brazil in 2021 overlap with areas registered as Legal Reserves (RL). This represents 22% of the total deforested area in the country. The number of alerts that overlap with Permanent Preservation Areas (APP) declared in the CAR reached 5% of the total (0.6% in area).

Conservation Units

A total of 166,895 hectares of deforestation were detected within Conservation Units (UCs) in 2021, which represents 10.1% of the total area detected in Brazil in 2021. Of the 2,181 federal and state terrestrial UCs registered in the National Registry of Conservation Units Conservation (CNUC), 252 UCs (11.6%) had at least one deforestation event of at least 1 hectare in 2021 - a number close to that observed in 2020 (254 UCs). 

Of these 252 UCs, 21 had more than 1,000 hectares deforested, 12 of which were APAs. They are located in ten states: PA, RO, BA, TO, AC, CE, MA, PI, MG and GO. The two UCs with the largest deforested area were APA do Triunfo do Xingu (PA), with 48,971 ha, and FLONA do Jamanxim (PA), with 18,281 ha. The area with the highest number of alerts was the Chico Mendes RESEX, in Acre, with 1,078 alerts.

Most of this deforestation occurred in sustainable use UCs (91.9%). Although in integral protection UCs this percentage was only 8.1% of the total observed in Conservation Units, it was in this category where the problem most advanced.

Indigenous lands

Deforestation that occurred in TIs represented 4.7% of the total alerts and 1.9% of the total deforested area in Brazil in 2021. Most of the alerts and the deforested area in TIs are found in the Amazon biome. 

Of the total of 573 Indigenous Lands (TIs) in Brazil (considering their various phases of recognition and demarcation, including an interdiction ordinance), 232 (40.5%) had at least one deforestation event in 2021. The number of TIs that had some deforestation between 2019 and 2021 reached 326 (57%). Of this total, only 11 (2%) had more than 500 ha deforested. The ILs with deforestation are located in eight states: AM, PA, RO, MA, MT, PR, AC and RR.

The largest deforestation occurred in the Apyterewa (8,247 ha), Trincheira Bacajá (2,620 ha) and Cachoeira Seca (2,034 ha) ILs, all in the state of Pará. Kayapó and Apyterewa were the ILs with the highest number of alerts in 2021, with 531 and 514, respectively.

Low Enforcement

The analysis of actions carried out by environmental control bodies to contain illegal deforestation shows that the embargoes and assessments carried out by IBAMA and ICMBio until May 2022 reached only 2.4% of deforestation and 10.5% of the deforested area identified between 2019 and 2021.Inthe 52 municipalities defined as priorities by the Ministry of the Environment for combating deforestation in the Amazon, this index is a little better: 4.4% of the total alerts and 21.2% of the deforested area.

Based on available data, when adding the actions carried out by federal and state agencies, including Public Prosecutors, the number of deforestation alerts detected between 2019 and 2021 with inspection actions rises to 15,980, which represents 7.7% of the total and 27.1% of the deforested area (1.169 million hectares).

In the period from 2019 to 2021, there was a greater performance of inspection bodies in the states of the Southeast region, compared to other regions of the country, when considering the percentage of alerts with inspection actions as an indicator (88.4% in ES, 27 .3% in RJ, 26% in MG, and 21.8% in SP). The states with the highest proportion of deforestation responded with some type of action (whether authorization, assessments or embargoes) are Espírito Santo (86.3%), Mato Grosso (66%), Minas Gerais (43.2%) and Tocantins ( 40.9%). The lowest rates are in Bahia (1.7%), Santa Catarina (3%) and Pernambuco (4.4%).

The states with the lowest performance are Pernambuco (1.1%), Piauí (1.1%), Amapá (1.2%), Bahia (1.4%) and Santa Catarina (1.5%). It is observed that in most of these states (with the exception of Bahia) there was no access to state databases.

About MapBiomas Alerta - MapBiomas Alerta consolidates information provided by the various systems that monitor deforestation in Brazil, such as DETER/INPE, SAD/IMAZON, , GLAD/Univ. Maryland, SIRAD-X/ISA, SAD Caatinga/Geodatin/UEFS, SAD Pantanal/SOS Pantanal-ArcPlan and SAD Mata Atlântica/SOS Mata Atlântica-ArcPlan. Each alert is validated and refined, generating a report with daily satellite images in high spatial resolution before and after deforestation, in addition to possible crossings with geographic limits (such as biomes, states, municipalities and hydrographic basins), land cuttings (such as Cadastro Rural Environmental, Conservation Units and Indigenous Lands) and administrative status (such as the existence of authorization, assessment notice or embargo). The result is a complete report for each deforestation event detected in Brazil. All data and reports are publicly and free of charge on a web platform so that inspection bodies, financial agents, companies and civil society can act to reduce illegal deforestation. The complete report with all the data is available on the MapBiomas Alerta website (