Environment

In the Amazon, forest degradation is outpacing full deforestation

Deforestation rates are spiking, but most of the logging, mining, and forest degradation can go undetected by the satellites that monitor vegetation destruction

In the Amazon, forest degradation is outpacing full deforestation
Photo: CIFOR/Flickr

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased abruptly over the past two years, after decreasing for more than a decade. With President Jair Bolsonaro notoriously enthusiastic about expanding the economy at the expense of the rainforest, new deforestation data regularly makes global headlines.

But what fewer people realize is that even forests that have not been cleared, or fully “deforested,” are rarely untouched. Indeed, just 20 percent of the world’s tropical forests are classified as intact. The rest have been impacted by logging, mining, fires, or by the expansion of roads or other human activities. And all this can...

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