First modification: 07/15/2021 – 01:43
The Scientific Panel for the Amazon (SPA) concluded in its report that 35% of the Amazon forest has already been deforested or degraded. According to its most recent study, the management of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has aggravated the situation.
More than 8,000 endemic Amazonian plants and at least 2,300 animals are at high risk of extinction according to the latest report from the Scientific Panel for the Amazon (SPA). The 33-chapter report compiles the research of 200 scientists from around the world and is one of the most detailed documents on the world’s largest rainforest.
According to the report, Amazonian soil and vegetation are home to about 200,000 million tons of carbon, more than five times the world’s total CO2 emissions per year. Hence, the report highlights that “it is essential” to reduce deforestation and forest degradation to zero in less than a decade.
According to Mercedes Bustamante, a researcher at the University of Brasilia, science has shown that the human species faces catastrophic and potentially irreversible risks due to multiple crises. It refers specifically to climate change and the reduction of biodiversity.
“There is a narrow window of opportunity to change this trajectory,” says Bustamante, “the fate of the Amazon is central to solving global crises.”
The Bolsonaro Government in Brazil has deepened the crisis in the Amazon
According to the report published by SPA, the government of the ultra-rightist Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil has aggravated the crisis. Last year, deforestation in the country’s Amazon region reached its highest point in 12 years. The revelation unleashed a wave of international criticism accusing the Brazilian Executive of negligence.
The Bolsonaro government has promoted mining and agriculture in protected areas of the Amazon, in addition to weakening the agencies in charge of environmental issues. Scientists and activists agree that Bolsonaro’s administration has had a direct impact on the increasing destruction of Amazonian ecosystems.
The event in which the SPA report was launched was held this Thursday, July 14, and the main findings divided by chapters can now be consulted online.
A week ago, in neighboring Colombia it was reported that deforestation increased by 8% in 2020 compared to the previous year. Of the 171,685 hectares cleared last year, 64% were razed from the country’s Amazon region. During the panel in which the SPA report was presented, former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stated that there was a lack of leadership in the region to face the environmental crisis.
“Unfortunately, at this time in Latin America, and especially in these eight countries … you don’t see that political leadership,” said the former Colombian president, referring to the states that share the Amazon rainforest. “You don’t see any of those presidents taking the lead,” Santos criticized.
Nature magazine: some parts of the Amazon emit more carbon than they absorb
The SPA report notes that, of its original size, 18% of the Amazon rainforest has already been deforested, mostly by agricultural settlers and illegal logging. Additionally, another 17% have degraded. The researchers agree to call for increased restoration efforts, but emphasize that the main objective should focus on protecting existing vegetation and bodies of water.
“Restoration actions can be expensive and complex to implement, so in fact it is better to avoid deforestation and degradation so that we do not have to implement restorative measures,” says Marielos Pena-Claros, professor at the University of Wageningen in the Countries Low.
In a separate investigation just published in the journal Nature, it is pointed out that deforestation in some parts of the Amazon has reached such a point that the carbon emission per year is greater than the absorption capacity of the forest. The southeast of the Amazon is the most affected area. The study headed by Luciana Gatti, from the National Institute for Space Research of Brazil (INPE, for its acronym in Portuguese), indicates that this region went from being a sink to becoming an important source of carbon during the study period, between 2010 and 2018.
Deforestation and regional climate change may be threatening the atmospheric carbon buffering potential of the Amazon rainforest, suggests a paper in Nature. Some regions are shown to be emitting more carbon than they absorb. https://t.co/3GKZ7OVqeD pic.twitter.com/zHhZiRaJyV
– nature (@Nature) July 14, 2021
The researcher Gatti explains that the increase in carbon dioxide and monoxide in the southeastern Amazon is not only the result of fires and the direct destruction of the forest, but is also due to the increase in tree mortality. The phenomenon occurs because severe droughts and high temperatures have become increasingly common.
INPE research adds that in the last 40 years, the eastern part of the Amazon, particularly the southeast, has suffered more deforestation, warming and water stress than the western part, especially during the dry season.
With EFE and Reuters