ESA shows 30 years of deforestation in Amazon rainforest

Deforestation near the northwestern Brazilian city of Rio Branco has made its mark on the rainforest over the last 30 years. By comparing a Landsat-5 image from 1985 with a Copernicus Sentinel-2 image from 2016, we can see where vegetation has been cleared away for logging, farming, and other activities.

Rainforests worldwide are being destroyed at an alarming rate. This is of great concern because they play an important role in global climate, and are home to a wide variety of plants, animals, and insects. More than a third of all species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest.

Unlike other forests, rainforests do not grow back when they are destroyed and, owing to their composition, their soils are not suitable for long-term agricultural use.

With their unique view from space, Earth observation satellites have been instrumental in highlighting the vulnerability of the rainforests by documenting the scale of deforestation, particularly in remote areas.

In these false-colour images, vegetation appears red to help us better distinguish between vegetated and non-vegetated areas.

Copyright: USGS/ESA/contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA "