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The conversion of tropical rain forests to pasture and cropland is having dramatic effects on the environment. Particularly intense and rapid deforestation is taking place in the state of Rondônia, Brazil, part of which is shown in this series of Landsat images.

About 30% (3,562,800 km2) of the world's tropical forests are in Brazil. The estimated average deforestation rate from 1978 to 1988 was 15,000 km2 per year. In Rondônia, 67,764 km2 of rain forest had been cleared through 2003—an area larger than the U.S. State of West Virginia.

Systematic cutting of forest vegetation starts along roads and then fans out to create the "feather" or "fishbone" pattern, which begins to show in the eastern half of the 1984 image.


Every picture has a story to tell
June 19, 1975, Landsat 2 (path/row 249/67) — Rondônia, Brazil
June 24, 1984, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/67) — Rondônia, Brazil
July 16, 1986, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/67) — Rondônia, Brazil
June 22, 1992, Landsat 4 (path/row 232/67) — Rondônia, Brazil
Aug. 10, 2001, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/67) — Rondônia, Brazil
July 5, 2011, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/67) — Rondônia, Brazil
July 18, 2016, Landsat 8 (path/row 232/67) — Rondônia, Brazil
July 27, 2019, Landsat 8 (path/row 232/67) — Rondônia, Brazil
July 30, 2023, Landsat 9 (path/row 232/67) — Rondônia, Brazil


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Ellis, W.S., Allard, W.A., and McIntyre, L., 1988, Rondonia—Brazil's imperiled rain forest: National Geographic, v. 174, no. 6, p. 772–799.

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UNEP, 2005, Tropical forest—Rondônia, Brazil, in One planet, many people—atlas of our changing environment: Nairobi, Kenya, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), p. 184–185.

White, P.T., and Blair, J.P., 1983, Tropical rain forests—Nature's dwindling treasures: National Geographic, v. 163, no. 1, p. 2–46.

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