How is the Amazon rainforest threatened?

A new study showed irreversible damage that deforestation in the area could be causing

How is the Amazon rainforest threatened?


The loss of forests in South America has been, since the last decades, a scourge difficult to control. The environmental impact caused by man has reached the point of threatening the world's largest rainforest: the Amazon. This is demonstrated by a new study published in the journal Science Advance, in which researchers show that the 'lungs of the planet' is reaching a critical point of destruction and of "no return".


The study named 'Amazon Tipping Point' (Inflection Point Amazon), was led by scientists Thomas E. Lovejoy of George Mason University in Virginia (USA) and Carlos Nobre of the Academy of Sciences from Brazil. In it, the specialists were able to determine the extent of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and the time it would begin to impact the water cycle of the Amazon, which after affected would stop supporting its ecosystems.


According to research, since 1970 , more than 765,000 square kilometers of forest have been lost, and in the last 50 years 17% of the vegetation in the Amazon has been deforested. The figure does not seem to be very alarming, but according to researchers, is very close to touch a range of maximum risk, since reaching 20% of the total deforestation would reach the tipping point.


"If the weather changes-for deforestation or global warming there is a risk that more than 50% of the Amazon forest becomes degraded savannah", explains Carlos Nobre so, emphasizing that only remains 3% for the the world's largest jungle no longer sustainable.


A risk to the community


The characteristics and humidity of the Amazon contributes to the generation of rainfall and human welfare of some communities in South America, especially southern Paraguay, southern Brazil, Uruguay and central-eastern Argentina. In Brazil, the Amazon region represents an important agricultural participation and although it can not determine with certainty the consequences reach 20% of deforestation in the area for residents, it is believed that the main causes are droughts, agricultural losses and water pollution.


"The fact that deforestation continues is a demonstration of the difficulty, or nearly bankrupt, of representative democracy in our South American countries. Representative democracy no longer works in Brazil because the will of the majority of the Brazilian population to preserve Amazon does not correspond to the political actions that we see emanating from the Brazilian states", said Nobre in the research.


Loss of vegetation in the Amazon rainforest has been in the last decade of 5,000 square kilometers per year. Although the figure is high, it represents a significant decrease from the 90's, when the range of annual deforestation reached 15,000 square kilometers.


In addition to deforestation, climate change and irresponsible use of fire represent a substantial threat to achieve in less time 20% loss of plant and wildlife  in the Amazon. At the Paris Conference of 2015, Brazil committed to reforest 12 million hectares mainly in the southern Amazon in 2030, in order to reverse the human damage and preserve natural areas of greatest importance for the region American and for the whole world.



Latin American Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Translated from "¿Cómo está en peligro la selva amazónica?"