More than a third of the Amazon rainforest may have been degraded by human activity and drought, and action is needed to protect the critically important ecosystem, researchers said Thursday.
In a study published in the journal Science, researchers said the damage done to forests across nine countries was far greater than previously known.
For this study, they examined the effects of fire, logging, drought, and habitat change along forest boundaries. This is what is called the edge effect.
Most previous research on the Amazon ecosystem has focused on the consequences of deforestation.
The study found that between 2001 and 2018, fires, logging and edge effects degraded at least 5.5%, or 364,748 square kilometers, of the remaining Amazon forest.
However, when the effects of drought are taken into account, the degraded area increases to 2.5 million square kilometers, or 38% of the Amazon’s remaining forest.
“As land-use change and anthropogenic climate change progress, extreme droughts are becoming increasingly frequent in the Amazon, impacting tree mortality, fire rates and carbon emissions to the atmosphere.” said the researchers.
“Forest fires intensify in years of drought,” they said, warning of the danger of “much larger megafires” in the future.
Researchers from Brazil’s Universidade Estadual de Campinas and other institutions used satellite imagery and other data from 2001 to 2018 to reach their conclusions.
In another study published in Science, researchers at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette and others called for action about human impacts on the Amazon.
“The Amazon is rapidly shifting from a largely natural state to a degraded and altered landscape under the combined pressures of regional deforestation and global climate change,” they say. I got
“Changes are happening too quickly for the species, people and ecosystems of the Amazon to respond adaptively,” they said. must be enacted.
“To fail the Amazon is to fail the biosphere, and we are failing to take risks,” they said.
Brazil’s new president, leftist Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, has pledged to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.