A third of the Amazon rainforest “degraded” by human activity and drought

A third of the Amazon rainforest “degraded” by human activity and drought

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Published on Friday, January 27th, 2023 at 5:51 pm.

More than a third of the Amazon rainforest may be degraded by human activity and drought, according to a scientific study unveiled Thursday in the journal Science, prompting calls for legislation to protect this vital ecosystem at risk.

The damage done in this forest, which covers nine countries, is much greater than previously thought, indicated researchers, notably from the Brazilian university Universidad Estadual de Campinas.

In their study, they analyzed the consequences of fire, logging, drought and changes in forest edge habitats – what they call the edge effect.

These events, excluding drought, have destroyed at least 5.5% of the rest of the Amazon ecosystem, or 364,748 square kilometers of forest, between 2001 and 2018, according to the study.

When the effects of drought are included, the degraded area represents 2.5 million square kilometers, or 38% of the remaining forests that make up the Amazon ecosystem.

“Extreme droughts have become more common in the Amazon due to changing patterns of land use and human-induced climate change, increasing tree mortality, number of fires, and emissions of carbon into the atmosphere,” the scientists said.

He warned of the dangers of “big fires” in the future, saying “wildfires have intensified during years of drought.”

Scientists from the University of Lafayette in the US state of Louisiana and other institutions are calling for action in a separate study of the impact of human activity on the Amazon ecosystem, also published in the journal Science.

“Changes are happening too fast for Amazon species, populations and ecosystems to adapt,” he argued.

“The laws to avoid the worst consequences are known and must be implemented immediately.”

The scientists concluded, “To lose the Amazon is to lose the biosphere, and failure to act is at our peril.”