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
Additional story information
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.
Lindsey, R., 2007, Tropical deforestation: NASA Earth Observatory, available online at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Deforestation/. (Accessed August 30, 2012.)
NASA, 2010, Amazon Deforestation: NASA Earth Observatory, available online at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/deforestation.p…. (Accessed May 15, 2012.)
NASA, 2012, Landsat top 10: international deforestation patterns in tropical rainforests: NASA, available at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/landsat/news/40th-top10-amazon.html. (Accessed August 30, 2012.)
Pedlowski, M.A., Matricardi, E.A.T., Skole, D., Cameron, S.R., Chomentowski, W., Fernandes, C., and Lisboa, A., 2005, Conservation units—a new deforestation frontier in the Amazonian state of Rondônia, Brazil: Environmental Conservation, v. 32, no. 2, p. 149–155. (Also available online at http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&ai….)
Skole, D., and Tucker, C., 1993, Tropical Deforestation and Habitat Fragmentation in the Amazon—Satellite Data from 1978 to 1988: Science, v. 260, no. 5116, p. 1905–1910.
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.