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7 striking examples of deforestation from NASA

By: Katherine Butler on July 10, 2012, 6:31 p.m.
deforestation from space

Photo: NASA

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Fires along Rio Xingu, Brazil

One of the most utilized methods of deforestation is the “slash-and-burn” technique used to clear farmland. Trees large and small are cut down and burned to make way for agriculture or livestock use. The negative effects of slash-and-burn techniques are compounded by the releases of excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Trees are vital to the Earth’s water cycle and cooling ability, and their very destruction exacerbates the issue.


Slash-and-burn techniques have been used excessively in the Amazon rain forest since the 1960s. Here we see a photo taken from the International Space Station, showing slash-and-burn along the Rio Xingu, or Xingu River, in Matto Grasso, Brazil. “For a sense of scale, the river channel is approximately 63 kilometers (39 miles) long in this view.” writes NASA of this photo. One-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply is found in the Amazon basin.