What’s the Forest-at-Risk? A forward-looking deforestation dashboard for Brazil’s Legal Amazon

Map of areas at risk of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Map of areas at risk of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

Protecting the Amazon rainforest is crucial for maintaining its role as “the lungs of the world.” The rainforest stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, serves as a hotspot of biodiversity, and stabilizes regional temperatures. These benefits are important to all of us, no matter where we live. As such, the Amazon is a true public good – in fact, most of its value comes from its global importance that goes beyond what it contributes to the Amazon countries. But, as with many public goods, its protection requires international collaboration, coordination, and a good understanding of how much of the Amazon rainforest is at risk of deforestation.

Together with the Amazon Environmental Research Insitute (IPAM), we developed a model that can tell us where and how much deforestation is most likely to occur – the forest-at-risk. This is important for effective policing and generating legal and financial incentives to protect the rainforest. For example, we need to consider the specific situations of each region – whether the land is public, private, or indigenous-owned – but also understand the role of global prices for beef or timber, which are important drivers of deforestation.

As a result of this new collaboration between the World Bank and IPAM, the new publication “Spatiotemporal Scenarios for Deforestation in Brazil’s Legal Amazon” identifies the connection between macroeconomic cycles and local deforestation dynamics. The model projects deforestation rates into the near future and estimates where it is most likely to take place on the map. Only when we know the forest-at-risk ahead of time can efforts to protect it be designed and implemented more effectively. 

Amazon chart on deforestation scenario

Three deforestation scenarios


It’s hard to know precisely how deforestation will develop in the future. But we can explore how various scenarios may play out.

The business-as-usual (BAU) scenario acknowledges that macroeconomic factors, along with policy efforts and regional variables, influence deforestation. A previous blog examined the impact of global commodity prices and the real effective exchange rate on deforestation pressures in Brazil’s Legal Amazon. Utilizing this empirical relationship, the study establishes a deforestation benchmark to quantify the expected deforestation in the absence of policy interventions. This benchmark is essential for assessing the effectiveness of policy actions. A two-part blog series highlighted the importance of a reliable deforestation benchmark for a sustainability-linked bond for the Amazon.

For 2022, the BAU scenario expected 9,619 km2 of deforestation, while PRODES data reported an actual loss of 12,695 km2 – 32% higher than predicted. This discrepancy between forecasted and observed deforestation levels may signal a relaxation of the enforcement of environmental policies in the years before 2022. Research indicates that, indeed environmental governance has weakened under the previous federal government, prompting widespread international and national criticism.The historical reference level (HRL) scenario projects past rates of forest loss into the future, akin to a REDD+ baseline. If deforestation continues at the current HRL rate, we anticipate a 35% increase in deforestation by 2025 compared to the BAU baseline. This suggests that macroeconomic conditions may now be favorable to achieve a further reduction in deforestation rates, complemented by environmental policy efforts.

The environmental governance (GOV) scenario examines the impact of potential policy shifts on deforestation rates by simulating increased protection of forest areas through accreditation.


Where will deforestation occur? 


Identifying deforestation hot spots is crucial for the effective implementation of conservation policies and for preparing to address potential leakage in vulnerable regions. When analyzing deforestation at a more granular level, local factors become significant. For instance, market access for Amazon farmers and the land’s suitability for agriculture significantly influence the appeal for deforestation.  The ease with which farmers can expand production or transport goods for sale is also affected by biophysical conditions, such as slope, altitude, and carbon density of the land. Our model incorporates these factors to simulate deforestation at a local scale using a spatial model. For 2022, our model achieved 90% accuracy on a 20km x 20km grid, comparing the simulated and observed deforestation. 

Combining the steps – explore it yourself

To share the spatial projections for 2022-2025 under the three different scenarios with the public, we developed an online dashboard that can be accessed under this link: Forest-at-Risk Dashboard. It enables users to delve into the differences between different years and observe how deforestation risk scenarios interact with indigenous territories and conservation areas. By making the complex data on future deforestation pressures accessible and providing a visual representation, it can inform the planning and implementation of conservation strategies.

Image of the Amazon dashboard


The dashboard will be updated annually as new data about forecasted macroeconomic conditions and observed deforestation becomes available. More information on strategies to support a resilient and decarbonized Brazil can be found in the World Bank’s Country Climate and Development Report and how the Amazon requires a new economic model to stop deforestation.

Marek Hanusch

Lead Economist and Program Leader in the World Bank’s Practice Group for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions

Dieter Wang

Sustainable Finance Specialist Consultant

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