According to a new study published on January 27 in the journal Science.
The article was led by an international team of 35 scientists and researchers, drawn from institutions such as the Brazilian University of Campinas (Unicamp), the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and the British University of Lancaster. It shows that up to 38% of the remaining Amazon forest area, the equivalent of ten times the size of the UK, has been affected by some form of human disturbance, causing carbon emissions equivalent to or greater than those of Deforestation.
The work is the result of the AIMES (Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System) project, linked to the international initiative Future Earth, which brings together scientists and researchers who study sustainability.
The findings are the result of an analytical review of previously published scientific data, based on satellite imagery and a synthesis of published data describing changes in the Amazon region between 2001 and 2018. The authors define the concept of degradation as changes transient or long term. under man-made forest conditions. Degradation is different from deforestation, where the forest is entirely removed and a new land use, such as agriculture, is established in its place. Although heavily degraded forests may lose almost all the trees, the land use itself does not change.
The authors assess four key disturbances that cause forest degradation: forest fires, edge effects (changes that occur in forests adjacent to cleared areas), selective logging (such as logging illegal logging) and extreme drought. Different forest areas may be affected by one or more of these disturbances.
“Despite the uncertainty about the total effect of these disturbances, it is clear that their cumulative effect can be as important as deforestation for carbon emissions and biodiversity loss,” said Jos Barlow, professor of science at conservation at Lancaster University in the UK and co-author of the paper.
Scientists believe that the degradation of the Amazon also has important socio-economic impacts, which should be studied further.
“Degradation benefits a few, but imposes a significant burden on many,” says co-author Dr Rachel Carmenta, based at the University of East Anglia, UK. “Few people benefit from degradation processes, but many lose out in all dimensions of human well-being, including health, nutrition and attachments to place for the forest landscapes where they live. burdens are currently hidden; acknowledging them will help enable better governance with social justice at the center.”
In a projection made by the team for 2050, the four drivers of degradation will continue to be the main sources of carbon emissions in the atmosphere, regardless of growth or elimination of forest deforestation.
“Even in an optimistic scenario, when there is no more deforestation, the effects of climate change will lead to forest degradation, leading to new carbon emissions,” says study leader Dr David Lapola. researcher at the Center for Meteorological and Climatic Research Applied to Agriculture at Unicamp. However, “preventing further deforestation remains vital and could also allow more attention to be given to other drivers of forest degradation.”
The authors propose to create a system for monitoring forest degradation, as well as preventing and combating illegal logging and controlling the use of fire. One suggestion is the concept of “smart forests” which, like the idea of ”smart cities”, would use different types of technologies and sensors to collect useful data to improve the quality of the environment.
“Public and private actions and policies aimed at curbing deforestation will not necessarily also tackle degradation,” says Dr Lapola. “There is a need to invest in innovative strategies.”
David M. Lapola, Drivers and Impacts of Amazon Rainforest Degradation, Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/science.abp8622. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abp8622
Quote: Human activity has degraded more than a third of the remaining Amazon rainforest, scientists say (2023, January 26) Retrieved January 26, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-human-degraded -amazon-rainforest-scientists.html
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