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Deforestation and fires in Para, Brazil
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
This true-color MODIS image highlights the increasing environmental
pressures on South Americas Amazon River basin. The area shown is part
of the Brazilian state of Pará. In the far upper right corner is the
reservoir created by the Tucuruí Dam on the Tocantins River, a huge
hydroelectric project that was constructed amid controversy over
negative environmental impacts and human rights violations. According to
a report released in November 2000 by the World Commission on Dams, the
project ultimately displaced over 14, 000 indigenous people, resulted in
high rates of fish mortality, and provided breeding grounds for
increasing numbers of mosquitoes, which increased occurrence of malaria.
The area shown in this MODIS image, which is south of the Amazon River,
also indicates that the regions forests are increasingly under
pressure. With fires (red dots) on all sides, this vast tract of
rainforest is being encroached upon by deforestation for farming and
cattle ranching. Deforestation is especially evident in the lower right
of the image, which is virtually denuded except for thin stretches of
vegetation that remain along the banks of the creeks that feed the
Araguaia River, which runs southwest from the center of the images
right edge. The impact of deforestation on water quality in the Araguaia
seems clear; the brown water is likely an indication of sediment that
washes unchecked into the river. Does a similar fate await the Xingu
River, seen running north to south to the west of the Araguaia? In the
heart of the forest, a road deviates southward from the course of the
Tapajós River (upper left, beneath the smoke), bringing fires with it.
Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC