How much time does the Amazon have left? In just 18 years it could suffer irreversible damage

Although for the Amazon to cease to exist there are still 490 years left, in less than two decades the ecosystem could change completely

How much time does the Amazon have left? In just 18 years it could suffer irreversible damage

Leer en español: ¿Cuánto tiempo le queda al Amazonas? En solo 18 años podría tener daños irreversibles

For the planet to run out of a tree in the Amazon, it is necessary that 490 years pass at the current rate of deforestation so that the remaining 83% of the Amazon forest is lost.

The Amazon forest has an area of 6.7 million square kilometers, and is the largest tropical forest on the planet, but according to the WWF, in the last 50 years, it has lost 17% of its territory. In recent years, the rate of deforestation has fallen. In Brazil, where the largest proportion of the Amazon is located, about 800 thousand hectares were cut between August 2015 and July 2016. In that same year, Peru registered a loss of 164 thousand 662 hectares of its Amazonian forest and Colombia were lost 179 thousand 597 hectares. As each hectare is 0.01 square kilometer, only in these 3 countries 0.17% was lost per year.

However, it does not take so long for the Amazon to go into crisis and accelerate its death. Experts say that if you lose 20%, the lung of the world will reach a point of no return. If they reach this point, according to scientists Carlos Nobre and Thomas Lovejoy, the Amazon would drastically change its landscape.

"If the climate changes - due to deforestation or global warming - there is a risk that more than 50% of the Amazon rainforest will be diverted to a degraded landscape of low biodiversity, savannah type", Nobre told EuroNews. This indicates that only losing 3% of the forest is already at risk. With a rate of 0.17% deforestation of the Amazon per year in 3 countries, in just 18 years the largest tropical forest in the world could have irreversible damage.

Efforts to save the Amazon are not enough

Although several countries have committed themselves to taking care of the forest, efforts are not enough. The Colombian government had committed to reduce deforestation to 0 by 2020, but now for an interview with the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Luís Gilberto Murillo, in the newspaper El Tiempo, he said "I think we have to think about a goal to 2022 or 2025 being more realistic".

For the authors of the research published this year in the journal Science Advances, "the sensible course is not only to strictly restrict deforestation, but also to build a margin of safety against the turning point of the Amazon, reducing the deforested area to less than 20 %".

The most affected in a world without Amazonas

Although everyone would see impacts on climate and CO2 levels, according to Nobre and Lovejoy, the most affected would be the countries of the countries of the south of South America: Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.

According to the research, southern Paraguay, southern Brazil, Uruguay, and central and eastern Argentina will reduce winter rainfall due to the absence of forest moisture.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Translated from "¿Cuánto tiempo le queda al Amazonas? En solo 18 años podría tener daños irreversibles"