Silent degradation


Study shows that 38% of the Amazon suffers from some kind of degradation and the problem could reach 70% of the biome by 2050.

The study was featured on the cover of Science in January. The main author of the article, David Lapola of Unicamp, spoke with InfoAmazonia.

The carbon emitted by this degradation in the period analyzed, which was from 2001 to 2018, is equivalent to, if not greater than, the carbon emitted by deforestation in the same period.

- David Lapola

Unlike deforestation, which is the total elimination of native vegetation in a given area, forest degradation is the partial and gradual elimination of vegetation.

Drought, fire, edge effects and logging are the main factors that lead to degradation.

Drought has already stricken 41% of the Amazon's remaining forest coverage. Influenced by global climate change, it is the most difficult factor to combat.

In addition, studies show that natural fire only occurs in the Amazon every 500 years, Lapola explains. In other words, every fire recorded in recent years has been caused by human activity.

There is also degradation caused by edge effects, changes in the forest caused by surrounding deforested areas. After a tree is cut down, the immediate 100 or 200 meters of forest start receiving direct light, as well as higher temperatures and more wind.

Meanwhile, logging is the reduction of the forested area for commercial purposes, a factor that leads to the fragmentation of the habitat of Amazonian species.

The study also presents unprecedented projections on what kind of degradation the forest will face in the future, taking into account the same four factors.

In an optimistic scenario, with zero deforestation by 2030, the Amazon Basin's forest would have 51% degradation by 2050.

In a more pessimistic scenario, maintaining current policies and deforestation rates, the degradation could reach up to 70%.

REPORTING Sibélia Zanon WRITTEN AND EDITED BY: Carolina Dantas PHOTOS Fábio Bispo/InfoAmazonia; Nilmar Lage / Greenpeace; Christian Braga / Greenpeace; Flávio Forner / InfoAmazonia. VISUAL IDENTITY Clara Borges ASSEMBLY Luiza Toledo