Public lands, which include indigenous lands (ILs), conservation units (CUs) and undesignated public land, occupy about 276 million hectares in the Amazon biome – if it were a European country, it would only be smaller in territory than Russia. These areas are constantly under pressure from invasions and illegal activities, which generate deforestation and fire (Alencar et al., 2021). In 2019 and 2020, about 44%, of annual forest clearing in the Amazon occurred on public lands.
Pastures, compared to other land uses, appear to be the main tool for the occupation of public lands in the Amazon, especially in regions at the frontier of deforestation (Tyukavina et al., 2017). However, little was known about the extent to which pastures have been used for illegal occupation of these lands, or how much of these pastures remain active and perennial.
In this technical note, we assess the evolution of the trajectory of illegal conversion of forests on public lands to other land uses between 1997 and 2020, with an emphasis on public lands not yet designated, in order to answer some of these questions.