Shocking satellite photos taken in Western Brazil last month have revealed the extent of the damage caused by rainforest deforestation. Taking as a comparison against the original satellite photographic study that was taken in 1975, the visual effect is truly devastating.
The study was carried out to combine with the London Olympics and highlight the ongoing environmental problem experienced by Brazil – the host of the Olympics in 2016.
The images reveal huge swathes of damage caused by clear-cutting operations for agriculture and road construction in the rural estate of Rondonia. This clearing process started in the 1970s, according to the Earth Observatory at NASA and secondary roads are being built from it as the expanding effects of deforestation occur.
The rate of this deforestation is now slower than it once was- falling almost 80% since its recent peak of 2005. However, nearly 225,000 sq. miles of rainforest have still been destroyed since 1980 and according to the NASA biologists, speed of deforestation in the rainforest isn’t actually the most important measurement statistic – it’s the pattern.
Road building patterns are more damaging The biologists explained that by cutting roads that run deep into the rainforest and then continue to branch outwards, there is a greater loss of species and habitat than a single area of deforestation would create. If wildlife habitats become fragmented, the exposed areas end up being eroded from wind damage and human intervention such as logging, poaching, hunting and animal capture.
Certainly, these images provide much food for thought and continue to force the issue of rainforest deforestation onto the global audience’s consciousness, which can only be a good thing. We just hope that the Brazilian government takes further positive action before the eyes of the world are trained upon them again for the 2016 Olympics.