Battling Deforestation In The Amazon

Battling Deforestation In The Amazon

Battling Deforestation In The Amazon.

This article indicates to us pictorially the ongoing deforestation in the Amazon. During the past 40 years, close to 20 percent of the Amazon rain forest has been cut down—more than in all the previous 450 years since European colonisation began. The percentage could well be far higher; the figure fails to account for selective logging, which causes significant damage but is less easily observable than clear-cuts. Scientists fear that an additional 20 percent of the trees will be lost over the next two decades. If that happens, the forest’s ecology will begin to unravel. Intact, the Amazon produces half its own rainfall through the moisture it releases into the atmosphere. Eliminate enough of that rain through clearing, and the remaining trees dry out and die. When desiccation is worsened by global warming, severe droughts raise the specter of wildfires that could ravage the forest. Such a drought afflicted the Amazon in 2005, reducing river levels as much as 40 feet (12 meters) and stranding hundreds of communities. Meanwhile, because trees are wantonly burned to create open land in the frontier states of Pará, Mato Grosso, Acre, and Rondônia, Brazil has become one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. The danger signs are undeniable. All of it starts with a road. Except for a handful of federal and state highways—including the east-west Trans-Amazon Highway and the controversial BR-163, the “soy highway,” which splits the heart of the Amazon along 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometres) from southern Mato Grosso north to Santarém in Pará—nearly every road in the Amazon is unauthorised. There are more than 105,000 miles (170,000 kilometres) of these roads, most made illegally by loggers to reach mahogany and other hardwoods for the lucrative export market. Credit: National Geographic Society.

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