Amazon | Degradation caused by humans already affects more than a third of the forest

Amazon |  Degradation caused by humans already affects more than a third of the forest

Deforestation in the Amazon is a constant topic in the Brazilian news, but a more discreet and less commented process has been causing problems as serious as these major cuts. We’re talking about human-caused degradation, including spot-cutting and forest fires.

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A study released this Thursday (26) indicates that 38% of the Amazon rainforest is already suffering from this degradation, a different action but as impactful as deforestation itself.

The article published in the journal Science is jointly authored by several national and international institutions, such as Unicamp, INPE and the University of Lancaster, in the United Kingdom. The authors studied degradation, which is a forest destruction different from deforestation, when large areas are entirely destroyed, usually for conversion to another land use.

This classification considers four main factors: forest fires, edge effect (changes that occur immediately next to deforested areas), selective extraction of plant species and extreme droughts. For the authors, differentiation is important because degradation and deforestation require different efforts both in their Reviews and in the construction of policies and actions to combat them.

The Reviews was carried out using records from NASA’s Terra, Aqua and Landsat satellites, which complement each other by using images in the visible and infrared spectrum, with a high capacity for detecting changes in vegetation due to variation in humidity. Combining the data allowed the quantification of each of the four degradation factors across the entire Amazon — not just the part of the Brazilian territory.

Projected for 2050, degradation should continue to be one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. “It’s clear that their total effect could be as important as the effect of deforestation for carbon emissions and biodiversity loss,” says Jos Barlow, researcher at Lancaster University, co-author of the study.

In addition to the effects on the environment, the authors indicate that degradation can still have major socioeconomic impacts. “Degradation favors a few, but burdens many”, says David Lapola, a Unicamp scientist and leader of the study. Patricia Pinho, a researcher at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), adds: “few people profit from this process and many lose out on issues of health, quality of life, identifying with the place where they live”.

To solve the problem, the authors propose an integrated system for monitoring this type of forest destruction. One of the possible solutions is the concept of “smart forests”, similar to smart cities, with different technologies working together to provide data on the state of degradation. “It is necessary to invest in innovative strategies”, concludes Lopola.

Source: Bori Agency