Differences in a Sea of Green


5-31-2001 Landsat-7 data of Iquitos.  Notice the light green strips of deforested land in the upper left region of this satellite image.11-01-1987 Landsat-5 data of Iquitos, Peru

How much of the Amazon is already lost? No one really knows, since some of the logging is legal and much is not. It's estimated that rainforests once covered 14% of Earth's surface, and may now cover only 6%.

The Landsat images on the right compare Iquitos in 1987 and 2001. The deforested areas are the lighter ones. Notice that the area deforested in the upper right had somewhat recovered in 18 years. The area around ExplorNapo has an 80 year recovery time. But look at the new areas that were logged (white).

Much of the pressure to continue logging in Peru is coming from investors who own their national debt. But international conservation agencies are working to relieve this pressure.

Ten of the most critically endangered areas in Peru will escape deforestation because of an effort spearheaded by the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund. In 2002, the U.S. government forgave $6.6 million in debt. In return, Peru agreed to commit approximately $10.6 million in savings to conservation initiatives. As a result, 27.5 million acres of rainforest will be protected.

Read more at http://www.nature.org/success/perudebt.html

Image source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Scientific Visualization Studio

Zoom In Closer

Remember your virtual expedition on Google Earth? By now you should be able to recognize and label the locations on a satellite map

Trace the deforestation areas in the satellite map above. As you do, note that they are long and narrow, leading from the river (mostly northward.) Review the area of Iquitos again, too--the effects of about half a million inhabitants. As you traveled down or upriver, you probably didn't notice too many areas without trees. That's because the channels which the logging companies build are either screened or blocked at the shore of the Amazon or Napo. The only way to appreciate how much of the forest is gone is to use our satellite eyes.