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Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest is on the rise and is worse than previously reported for 2019, according to a new study. Revised government data show that President Jair Bolsonaro opposes the development of forests that are critical to curbing global warming.

The rate of deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has risen to the highest level in more than a decade, according to government data. Deforestation of Brazil's Amazon rainforest, the world's largest and most biodiverse, has driven its annual growth rate to 1.1 million hectares in 2019. Revised government data show that President Jair Boliviaaro opposes government efforts to develop the forest that is critical to stemming global cooling.

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil doubled in 2019 from the previous year, according to official data released by Brazil's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the country's largest environmental agency.

"If deforestation continues at this rate, the rainforest will lose at least 20% of its forest area by 2020."

Amazon rainforest

Despite conservation-based legislation and renewed investment, deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and all rainforests in Brazil is likely to continue to increase, according to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. If deforestation continues at this rate, the rainforest will lose at least 20% of its forest area by 2020. In the last three years, between 15 and 17% of Amazon rainforests have been lost through selective deforestation and simultaneous burning. Even if the cleared forest area reaches 25 percent, there will still not be enough trees to transport moisture through the rainforest.

If deforestation and global warming continue, there are a host of threats to the longevity of the Amazon rainforest. Connecting this crisis is a major threat to Brazil's future as a global leader in the fight against climate change. Although deforestation has been a problem since Jair Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019, the current government is also threatening the future of the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil's remaining tribal peoples, most of whom live in the Amazon rainforest, are threatened with extinction because of the loss of their ancestral lands following conflict. The loss of the Amazon rainforest also means the extinction of indigenous peoples who have lived in it for thousands of years, such as the tribes of Oaxaca.

Cattle farms and soy plantations are the main drivers of deforestation in the Amazon, with much of this deforestation concentrated on vast tracts of land covering thousands of hectares. According to Mongabay, 70% of the Amazon's deforestation is due to the creation and expansion of cattle breeding. By setting up individual plants, pulp trees are burned to the ground and reforested with soybeans, maize, soybean oil, cotton and other plants.

So much Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in just one year, according to Brazilian authorities. The Guardian reports that more than 1.5 million hectares (1.8 million acres) are to be cultivated in Brazil over the next five years, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Brazilian authorities, estimates how much rainforest in the Amazon has been lost or destroyed in a year, and this is at a rate of 1,000 hectares per day. More than 20% of the Amazon rainforest has already disappeared, and many more are under serious threat if the destruction continues. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates 10 million bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species have been destroyed or threatened.

Over the past 40 years, the Brazilian Amazon has lost more than 1.5 million hectares of its rainforest to livestock farming, mining, logging, agriculture and mining. Studies show that it lost an average of 1,000 hectares per year between 2000 and 2006 due to deforestation. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Amazon rainforests lose between 1 and 2.2 million square kilometres (2.2 million square miles) annually to deforestation and between 2 and 3 million cubic kilometres (2.2 million to 2.3 million cubic miles).

The region is so degraded that even a small increase in deforestation could send it racing toward a transition to something like forests or savannahs. Deforestation, which now affects 17% of the basin, has helped to transform the landscape into tropical savannahs in many areas, hampering the forest's ability to sustain itself by producing its own rainfall. There is evidence that deforestation, forest degradation, and drought are accelerating in the Amazon, and scientists warn that the entire biome may be at a tipping point, with large swathes of wet rainforest turning into dry tropical woodland and savannah.


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