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. The deforested land and urban areas appear lavender; healthy vegetation appears green.
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