Deforestation drops by 73% in protected areas of the Amazon, the best result in the last nine years

Imazon's recently released report shows ‘significant decrease’ in deforestation

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) |
Protected areas are divided in Indigenous lands and Conservation Units that, together, are 44% of the Amazon rainforest - Governo Amazonas

In 2023, the deforestation of Amazonian protected areas in Brazil was 73% smaller than in 2022. The devastation in these territories between the two years dropped from 1,431km² to 386km², almost four times less. It was the lowest rate recorded in the last nine years in the Brazilian territories covered by the Amazon Rainforest.

The data were collected by Imazon’s Deforestation Alert System (SAD, in Portuguese) and released last Tuesday (23) in a SAD report.

The protected areas are divided into Indigenous lands and Conservation Units. Together, they are 44% of the Amazon rainforest. Imazon considers creating new protected areas and protecting those that already exist as one of the most efficient strategies to curb deforestation.

“The significant decrease in deforestation in protected areas is quite positive because these are priority territories for actions to stop environmental devastation,” says Carlos Souza Jr, the coordinator of Imazon's Amazon Monitoring Program.

“Most of the time, deforestation within Indigenous lands and Conservation Units means illegal invasions that cause conflicts with traditional peoples and communities living in these areas,” he adds.

General reduction of 62% in deforestation

Imazon also released the general deforestation rate inside and outside the protected territories. It was the smallest figure in the last five years, reaching pre-Bolsonaro levels. From January to December 2023, the deforested area in the Amazon reduced by 62%: 4,030 km² were deforested in the past year, which is still a high figure, but three times smaller than in 2022.

As negative points, Imazon highlights the felling of around 1,100 soccer fields a day in the coverage of the Amazon rainforest and the degradation of native vegetation, which is on the rise. Unlike deforestation, this type of destruction doesn't open up clearings in the forest, causing less noticeable damage. In December, for instance, the degraded area was 10 times larger than the deforested one.

Federal lands saw the highest drop in deforestation

Imazon also compared the reductions in deforestation between federal and state government protected areas. On federal lands, deforestation fell by 79%; on those belonging to the states, by 75%.

"All of the 10 most deforested Conservation Units in the Amazon in 2023 were territories where deforestation decreased," explains researcher Larissa Amorim, coordinator of Imazon's Deforestation Alert System (SAD).

"Last year, the largest area destroyed in an Indigenous territory was 13 km² of area deforested in Apyterewa land. Despite topping the ranking, the area saw an 85% reduction in devastation, as in 2022 it had lost 88 km² of forest. In October, it received a de-intrusion operation to remove illegal invaders," Imazon pointed out.

Edited by: Matheus Alves de Almeida