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Drone image of the Mata Atlantica tropical rainforest in Brazil. FG Trade / E+ / Getty Images

Efforts to catalog the fast-declining biodiversity of tropical rainforests just got a $10 million boost via a new competition from XPRIZE, an organization that has more than a dozen competitions on topics ranging from spaceflight to oil cleanup over the past 25 years.

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A solitary Brazil nut tree standing by the highway in a cleared patch of rainforest. Colin McPherson / Corbis via Getty Images

By Liberty Vittert

This year, I was on the judging panel for the Royal Statistical Society's International Statistic of the Decade.

Much like Oxford English Dictionary's "Word of the Year" competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this decade. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for a statistic that shines a light on the decade's most pressing issues.

On Dec. 23, we announced the winner: the 8.4 million soccer fields of land deforested in the Amazon over the past decade. That's 24,000 square miles, or about 10.3 million American football fields.

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

A lone burnt tree stands on a deforested area in the surroundings of Porto Velho, Rondonia State, in the Amazon basin in west-central Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP via Getty Images

An extensive study that looked at a decade of carbon emissions found that nearly 20 percent of one of the world's largest carbon sinks is actually releasing carbon instead of capturing it, according tso the BBC.

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The deforestation rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest is at its highest in more than a decade, CNN reported Tuesday.

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(L) Leonardo DiCaprio. JB Lacroix / Getty Images (R) Jair Bolsonaro. Jeso Carneiro / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has found a new person to blame for the record number of wildfires that have ravaged the Amazon rainforest this year: actor and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio.

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Aerial picture showing smoke from a fire billowing from the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil, on Aug. 23. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP / Getty Images

If current deforestation rates in the Amazon rainforest continue, the forest could be two years away from the "tipping point" after which it will no longer be able to sustain itself by making its own rain.

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Paulo Paulino Guajajara was 26 years old and was shot in the face. A partner with him was injured but escaped. euronews / YouTube screenshot

Illegal loggers shot and killed an indigenous defender of Brazil's Amazon rainforest, the Guajajara tribe announced Saturday, as Reuters reported.

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Handout picture released by the Colombian presidency showing Colombian President Ivan Duque (2-L) speaking next to Bolivian President Evo Morales (L) and in front of Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo (2-R) and Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno (R), during a meeting with Indigenous leaders before the Presidential Summit for the Amazon at the National University in Leticia, department of Amazonas, Colombia, on Sept. 6. NICOLAS GALEANO / AFP / Getty Images

Seven Amazon countries signed a pact Friday to protect the world's largest tropical rainforest in response to the record-breaking number of wildfires that have blazed through the Amazon rainforest this summer, Reuters reported.

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Brown bear fishing for salmon in creek at Pavlof Harbor in Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket / Getty Images

The Trump administration has moved one step closer to opening Earth's largest intact temperate rainforest to logging.

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A stock photo of fire in the Amazon; a record number of fires have burned there this year. Brasil2 / E+ / Getty Images

There are a record number of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil's space agency has said. Their smoke is visible from space and shrouded the city of São Paulo in darkness for about an hour Monday afternoon, CBS news reported.

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The Doomsday Clock is now at 100 seconds to midnight. EVA HAMBACH / AFP via Getty Images
The Doomsday Clock is now 100 seconds to midnight, partly because of the climate crisis.
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Ruffed Lemur (Varecia Variegata), Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Toamasina Province, Madagascar. Insights / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Andrea L. Baden

The island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa hosts at least 12,000 plant species and 700 vertebrate species, 80% to 90% of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

Isolated for the last 88 million years and covering an area approximately the size of the northeastern United States, Madagascar is one of the world's hottest biodiversity hotspots. Its island-wide species diversity is striking, but its tropical forest biodiversity is truly exceptional.

Sadly, human activities are ravaging tropical forests worldwide. Habitat fragmentation, over-harvesting of wood and other forest products, over-hunting, invasive species, pollution and climate change are depleting many of these forests' native species.

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Leonardo DiCaprio arrives fo the LA Premiere Of HBO's "Ice On Fire" held at LACMA on June 5 in Los Angeles, California. Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images

Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental charity has pledged $5 million towards fighting the wildfires currently burning in the Amazon rainforest, The Guardian reported Monday.

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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during the 55th Mercosur summit in Bento Goncalves, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, on Dec. 5, 2019. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP via Getty Images

Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is angry that 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is speaking out for indigenous rights.

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The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya rescues and rears orphaned elephants and rhinos. Wendy Stone / Corbis via Getty Images

If you care about the planet, you're probably thinking that the holidays are not a great time of year for the environment. There's more mail and package deliveries, homes and buildings are decorated with holiday lights, people travel more, and there's so much shopping as people buy presents for friends and family. So what's an environmentally conscious holiday-lover supposed to do?

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A sow and her cubs at Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the planet's largest intact temperate rainforest. Forest Service Alaska

By Jake Johnson

President Donald Trump has reportedly ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open Alaska's 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest — the planet's largest intact temperate rainforest — to logging and other corporate development projects, a move that comes as thousands of fires are ripping through the Amazon rainforest and putting the "lungs of the world" in grave danger.

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By Manuella Libardi

Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.

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Miners at a riverbank site in the Amazon. Maria Rodriguez

By Marlene Cimons

Last summer, scientist Maria Rodriguez traveled to the Peruvian region of Madre de Dios, once the home of lush rainforests, meandering rivers and thriving wildlife. But her destination was anything but picturesque. She'd come to study several sites ravaged by illegal gold mining that had left a legacy of destruction and mercury poisoning. One area, in fact, resembled a lunar landscape, rather than a rainforest.

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