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EO Service for mapping of long term trends in deforestation in tropical regions

DMCii supplies the Brazilian National Institute for Space and Research (INPE) annually with high resolution satellite imagery coverage of the Amazon Basin. INPE uses DMC satellite imagery to estimate Amazon Basin deforestation. The imagery campaign focuses on achieving a full coverage in short imaging windows to achieve homogeneity of data for analysis.

Service provider: DMC International Imaging Ltd.
User/Customer: Brazilian National Institute Space Research (INPE)
EOservice: Mapping long terms trends in deforestation
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Source: DMVii

Between May 2000 and August 2006, Brazil lost nearly 150,000 square kilometres of forest - an area larger than Greece - and since 1970, over 600,000 square kilometres (232,000 square miles) of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed. The main sources of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest are human settlement and development of the land. Most of the forest loss has been replaced with pasture for cattle.

One of the major concerns arising from deforestation is the global effect on climatic change. The rainforests are of vital importance in the carbon dioxide exchange process, and are second only to oceans as the most important carbon sink on the planet to absorb increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide resulting from industry. It is essential to protect these areas and monitor changes that take place.

Remote sensing is acknowledged as the best solution for forest monitoring of such vast areas. INPE is a research unit of the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology, whose main goals are fostering scientific research and technological applications and qualifying personnel in the fields of space and atmospheric sciences, space engineering, and space technology. It developed the PRODES project for a detailed annual assessment of deforestation.

PRODES, one of the actions of the Science and Technology Ministry (MCT), in the Plan of Prevention and the Amazon Deforestation Control (PPCDAM), has been recognized as an essential contribution for the PPCDAM goals as well as for transparency in publishing the information about the Legal Amazon. INPE makes PRODES information freely available through: www.obt.inpe.br/prodes

Making use of high resolution optical satellite sensors, PRODES enables the capture of all deforestation bigger than 6.26 hectares.

DMCii is one of the data suppliers for the project. DMC wide swath images can cover huge areas and they reduce the time of the analysis significantly. In 2005 DMCii delivered full coverage of the entire Legal Amazon with 32m gsd. Since then DMCii has been able to provide reliable annual large area coverage, and multi-temporal coverage of high risk areas. For example, in 2010 DMCii delivered two coverages of the Southern Arc of the Amazon Basin (Brazil) - one for July-August and second one for August-September - made up of 110 images with relatively low cloud cover for this region. Since CBERS reached end of mission and with intermittent Landsat 5 supply, DMC imagery has provided a reliable core of the monitoring programme.

A very important decline in deforestation has been observed since 2004, when the federal government created PPCDAM. Part of this reduction is due to INPE’s initiative, which created a system to detect deforestation in near real-time (DETER), allowing the supervisory board to take effective and promptly actions to combat illegal logging. Based on data from this system, the federal government took steps to restrict logging and the result was a decline in the deforestation rate.

The newest results from December 2010 shows that Amazon deforestation has decreased by 13.6% since 2009 and INPE estimates a total of 6,451 km2 forest loss for 2009/2010, with a margin of error of circa 10%. This is the lowest rate measured by INPE since 1988, when the institute started evaluating the annual surveys of deforestation.

The project proves that frequent forest monitoring with timely action leads to significant decrease of deforestation and prevents forest loss.