The data, information and knowledge on the tropical forest area and its dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon remain contentious. We use time-series satellite images to quantify annual forest area, loss and gain in the Brazilian Amazon during 2000–2017. We find that forest area was ~15% higher than the estimate by the official Brazilian forest dataset (PRODES), but annual forest-loss rates were twice the PRODES estimates (~0.027 × 106 km2 yr–1 during 2001–2016). Forest-loss rates increased again after 2013. The El Niño and drought year (2015/2016) drove large forest area loss. The cumulative forest-loss area within the protected areas (which include ~50% of forests in the region) was ~11% of the total forest-loss area, which highlights the roles of protected areas in forest conservation.
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The PALSAR/MODIS forest and MOD100 forest data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request and will be made available to the public. The other datasets are publicly available online (Supplementary Table 6).
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This study is supported in part by research grants from NASA Land Use and Land Cover Change programme (grant no. NNX14AD78G), NASA Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCarb) Mission (GeoCarb Contract no. 80LARC17C0001), the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) (grant no. CRN3076), which is supported by the US National Science Foundation (grant no. GEO-1128040) and NSF EPSCoR project (no. IIA-1301789).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Supplementary methods, Supplementary references 1–12, Supplementary Figs. 1–19, Supplementary Tables 1–6