Human Activity Has Degraded More Than a Third of the Remaining Amazon Rain Forest
The Amazon rain forest has been degraded by a much greater extent than scientists previously believed, with greater than a 3rd of its remaining area affected by humans, based on a latest study within the journal Science.
Large areas of the Amazon have already been completely deforested, and far previous research has focused on that. The brand new paper shows that as much as 38 percent of the remaining area—similar to 10 times the dimensions of the UK—has been affected by some type of human disturbance. Amongst other things, this has caused biodiversity loss and carbon emissions similar to or greater than those from deforestation, the researchers say.
The authors identified the principal disturbances as edge effects (which fragment habitats and cause ecological changes inside forests adjoining to deforested areas); logging, much of it illegal; uncontrolled fires; and extreme droughts, intensified by human-induced climate change. Many areas are affected by multiple disturbances.
The findings got here from a review of previously published data from satellite imagery, and a synthesis of other published data, covering the period 2001 to 2018. Degradation is different from deforestation, where the forest is removed altogether and a latest land use, equivalent to agriculture, is established. Although highly degraded forests can lose just about all their trees, the land use itself doesn’t change.
The research was done by a team of 35 scientists from seven nations including Brazil, Colombia, Germany and the US.
“One in every of the necessary takeaways from this study is that forest degradation and deforestation don’t necessarily fall on a linear trajectory,” said coauthor Hannah Liddy of the Columbia Climate School’s Center for Climate Systems Research. “Processes that result in forest degradation may be distinct from people who result in deforestation. Subsequently, policies to deal with them must even be distinct.”
The team projects that by 2050, the 4 principal degradation aspects will proceed to be major sources of carbon emissions, whatever the growth or suppression of deforestation.
“Even in an optimistic scenario, when there is no such thing as a more deforestation, the consequences of climate change will see degradation of the forest proceed, resulting in further carbon emissions,” said lead writer David Lapola of Brazil’s University of Campinas.
“Few people make the most of the degradation processes, yet many lose out across all dimensions of human well-being, including health, nutrition and the place attachments held for the forest landscapes where they live,” said Rachel Carmenta, a coauthor on the University of East Anglia, in the UK.
The authors propose making a monitoring system for forest degradation, in addition to prevention and curbing of illegal logging and controlling the use of fireplace. One suggestion is the concept of “smart forests” which, like the concept of “smart cities,” would use several types of technologies and sensors to gather data that could possibly be used to assist conserve resources.
Adapted from a press release by Brazil’s Bori Agency.