One third of the Amazon has been destroyed by human activity

More than a third of the Amazon rainforest may have been destroyed by human activity and drought, researchers said, and action is needed to protect the critical ecosystem.

In a study published in the journal Science, researchers say the damage to the forest, which spans nine countries, is significantly greater than previously known.

For the purpose of the study, they examined the impact of fires, logging, droughts, and habitat changes at the forest’s borders — what they called edge effects.

Most previous studies of the Amazon ecosystem have focused on the effects of deforestation.
The study found that between 2001 and 2018, fires, logging, and habitat changes destroyed at least 5.5% of all remaining forest in the Amazon or 364,748 square kilometers. But when the effects of droughts are taken into account, the degraded area increases to 2.5 million square kilometers, or 38% of the remaining forest in the Amazon.

“Extreme droughts are becoming more common in the Amazon as land-use changes and human-induced climate change progress, affecting tree mortality, fire incidence, and atmospheric carbon emissions,” the researchers said.

“Forest fires increase during drought years,” they said, warning of the dangers of “much larger mega-fires” in the future. Researchers from Brazil’s Universidade Estadual de Campinas and other institutions used satellite images and other data from 2001 to 2018 to reach their conclusions.

In a separate study published in Science on human impacts on the Amazon, researchers from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and elsewhere called for action.

“The Amazon could rapidly shift from a predominantly natural to a degraded and transformed landscape under the combined pressures of regional deforestation and global climate change,” they pointed out.

“Changes are happening too fast for Amazonian species, peoples, and ecosystems to respond adaptively. Policies to prevent the worst outcomes are known and must be implemented immediately,” they urged.

“To fail the Amazon means to fail the biosphere,” the scientists warned.

Brazil’s new president, leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has pledged to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.

Join Our Telegram channel here:

Related Articles

Back to top button