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November 13, 1986
October 30, 2016

Monitoring Deforestation in the Amazon

Large areas within the Amazon rain forest have undergone large-scale deforestation over the past few decades, and Landsat has helped record this widespread land change. However, in locations such as the Peruvian Amazon, the majority of deforestation is caused in recent years by small-scale agriculture, according to reports by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project.

The Amazon rain forest is lush green in these images about 25 miles northwest of Pucallpa along the Aguaytia River. Deforested land is light green or pink.

Two large-scale oil palm plantations, which began development in 2012, dominate the 2016 Landsat image. But also noticeable are pink areas scattered throughout this image. These small- to medium-scale cleared spots are also likely oil palm fields and land cleared for cattle grazing.

Landsat data provide enough detail to detect deforestation and tell whether it’s large- or small-scale agriculture, road construction, or pasture land. Monitoring where deforestation is occurring nearly as it happens can help control protected natural areas.

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November 13, 1986
October 30, 2016