95% of Amazon deforestation happens near roads or major rivers

6 August 2014

94.9 percent of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon occurs on land less than 5 kilometers from a road or navigable river, finds a new study published in the journal Biological Conservation.

The paper, which involved researchers from South Dakota State University, Imazon, and James Cook University, is based on analysis of satellite images and data from the Brazilian government. It finds that the rapidly expanding network of official and unofficial roads in the Brazilian Amazon are a key enabler of deforestation by opening up previously inaccessible areas to speculators, miners, loggers, ranchers, and farmers.

The results are consistent with a large body of research showing higher rates of deforestation, fire, and hunting impacts in proximity to roads. But the research goes a step further, concluding that protected areas are effective in limiting damage from increased accessibility provided by roads and major rivers.

Read more at Mongabay.