• Awarded: 2010
  • Issue Areas: Arresting Deforestation · Environmental Sustainability
  • Region: South America
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Imazon is a non-profit research institution whose mission is to promote sustainable development in the Amazon through scientific studies, support for public policy formulation, broad dissemination of information, and capacity building.

    In addition to producing a large and compelling body of research, Imazon has served as an incubator for the training of an entire generation of Amazonian scientists.

    The institute was founded in 1990, and its head office is located in the city of Belém, Brazil. In 25 years of operation Imazon has published more than 300 technical papers, about 180 of them in scientific journals. The Institute has also published 111 books, and more than 150 technical and public policy articles.

    Imazon’s work is founded on the principles of interdisciplinarity, the search for solutions to problems involving natural resource use and conservation in the Amazon, empiricism, and the scientific method.

    The organization’s core programs encompass landscape monitoring, forest and community, law and sustainability, forest policy and economics, and climate change.

    Brazil’s Forest Code is regularly disregarded by landowners who know the state is not equipped to monitor and collect fines for illegal deforestation

    Imazon uses state-of-the-art remote sensing and mapping to detect deforestation.

    When agencies can identify and prosecute illegal clearing, ranchers and producers find alternatives such as diversified wood products with less waste.

    Global Forest Watch partnership with Google Earth and World Resources Institute makes it possible to monitor deforestation worldwide.

    Ambition for Change

    Federal, state and municipal governments, as well as individual landowners, have access to data and maps showing deforestation as it happens. When deforestation does happen, public prosecutors work closely with municipal governments to apply and collect fines. Compliance with the Forest Code dramatically reduces deforestation.

    Path to Scale

    Partnership with Global Actors
    Work with corporations, governments, and others capable of applying the model more broadly.

    Business Model

    Philanthropic support of core programs; open-source replication with partnership and technical assistance from Imazon.

    Adalberto (Beto) Veríssimo and Carlos Souza, Jr., are recognized leaders in tropical forest conservation, having developed, through the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment (Imazon), a deforestation monitoring system that makes it possible to know, in almost real time, where deforestation occurs. Beto co-founded Imazon in 1990, determined to find a role as an honest broker and provider of information at a time when those who wanted to save the forest and those determined to exploit it were almost literally at war. Carlos joined the team two years later, pioneering a key innovation: using state-of-the-art remote sensing and mapping to detect deforestation. This enables agencies to identify and prosecute illegal clearing, and creates strong incentives for the ranchers and producers to find alternatives – such as diversified wood products with less waste. Imazon also publishes cutting-edge scientific reports in accessible formats and works with national and international media outlets to keep information on deforestation up to date and bring public pressure on decision-makers At the time of the Award, the Brazilian government had achieved 80 percent reduction in deforestation over five years. Rigorous new limits to deforestation were enacted, and the government had committed to stop illegal logging, focusing on hotspot regions identified by Imazon.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Worked with Google to develop Google Earth technology’s capacity to track deforestation; Global Forest Watch platform launched in 2014 with World Resources Institute makes it possible to monitor tree cutting worldwide.
    • Projects in development include tools to track fishing vessels and monitor sea level change.
    • In Brazil, partnership with public prosecutors facilitates enforcement of conservation laws in 75 million hectares of conservation and indigenous lands.


    Beto VerissimoSenior Research, Imazon
    Carlos Souza, Jr.Senior Researcher, Imazon
    Daniel SantosAssistant Researcher, Imazon
    Paulo BarretoSenior Researcher, Imazon

    See All Awardees →