Drought and human activity have “degraded” one third of the Amazon: study

According to researchers on Thursday, human activity and drought may have degraded more than one third of the Amazon rainforest, necessitating action to safeguard the ecosystem's critical importance.

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According to the findings of a study that was published in the scientific journal Science, the extent of the damage done to the forest, which stretches across nine nations, is significantly greater than previously thought.

They called these “edge effects” the effects of fire, logging, drought, and changes in habitat along forest borders for the study.

The majority of prior studies of the Amazon ecosystem have focused on the effects of deforestation.

Between 2001 and 2018, the study found that fire, timber extraction, and edge effects had degraded at least 5.5% of the Amazon’s remaining forests, or 364,748 square kilometers.

However, the degraded area grows to 2.5 million square kilometers, or 38% of the remaining Amazonian forests, when drought effects are taken into account.

According to the researchers, “extreme droughts have become increasingly frequent in the Amazon as land use change and human-induced climate change progress,” affecting tree mortality, fire frequency, and atmospheric carbon emissions.

They stated, “Forest fires intensify during drought years,” pointing to the potential for “much larger megafires” in the foreseeable future.

In order to arrive at their conclusions, the researchers from a number of institutions, including the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil, used satellite images and other data from 2001 to 2018.

Researchers from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and other institutions called for action in a separate study on human impacts on the Amazon that was published in Science.

Under the combined pressures of regional deforestation and global climate change, they stated, “The Amazon is perched to transition rapidly from a largely natural to degraded and transformed landscape.”

They stated, “The changes are occurring far too rapidly for Amazonian species, peoples, and ecosystems to adapt.” It is imperative that policies to prevent the worst outcomes be implemented immediately.

They stated, “We fail to act at our peril” because failing the Amazon is failing the biosphere.

Leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s new president, has promised to stop deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.

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