Human activity has degraded more than a third of the remaining Amazon rainforest, study finds

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The Amazon, home to more than 10% of all plant and vertebrate species, concentrated in just 0.5% of the Earth’s surface area, is being degraded by modern industrial and agricultural activities, putting biodiversity reserves and ecosystems at risk.

In a study published in the journal Science, an international team of researchers revealed that more than a third of the remaining Amazon rainforest has been affected by humans.

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Scientists analyzed previously published data, with satellite images and changes in the region between 2001 and 2018, and concluded that it was a degradation process.

Degradation, according to the authors, includes transient or long-term changes caused by anthropic actions without changes in land use and differs from deforestation, which comprises the removal of the forest and the establishment of new functionalities in its place, such as agriculture. .

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In the research, four factors that drive forest degradation were evaluated: forest fires, edge effects (changes in forests adjacent to deforested areas), selective logging (such as illegal logging), and extreme drought.

Forest areas can be affected by one or more of these disturbances.

The discovery showed that degradation takes place in a sector equivalent to 38% of the remaining region, 2.5 million square kilometers – an area ten times the size of the United Kingdom –, producing carbon emissions equivalent to or greater than those of deforestation .

In the current scenario, the Amazon is approaching a rapid transition from a largely forested to non-forested landscape.

The scientists propose the creation of a system for monitoring forest degradation, preventing and combating illegal deforestation, in addition to controlling the use of fire. “Smart forests” would adopt different technologies and sensors to collect data and invest in improvements in the region.

The work has the participation of researchers from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), University of Lancaster, in the United Kingdom, the Institute for Environmental Research in the Amazon (IPAM) and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and is the result of the project Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES), also linked to the international Future Earth initiative.

Source: CNN Brasil

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