The increased deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest

From August 2019 to July 31st 2020,  9205km² of the Amazon forest area was deforested. 

In the last few years, logging in the Amazon Rainforest has grown exponentially. Even with the rise in the number of institutes and projects that seek to protect the forest, like the Ituxi farm project, unfortunately, the amount of deforested area continues to grow.  

The Amazon Rainforest is known as an ecological services repository for the local community and regional indigenous people as much as for the rest of the world. It represents a third of the world’s tropical forests and plays an essential role in maintaining the ground quality, storing fresh water, and protecting the local flora and fauna.

The process that occurs in the forest, as evaporation and transpiration, also helps maintain the climatic balance of several regions of the country. However, as the Amazon Rainforest is deforested, it intensifies global warming and affects all forest processes.

The relevance of the Amazon Rainforest 

Do you know what the relevance of the Amazon Rainforest is to the world’s ecosystem? This place contains more than half of the planet’s biodiversity and plays an unique role in the use of water resources. This region concentrates 20% of the world’s fresh water, it provides drinkable water, it is used for inland waterways, and as an energy source. Brazil has the world’s second-biggest forest area, surpassed only by Russia. The Brazilian forest has an area of 500,000,000-hectares, practically twice the size of India or Argentina. 

Because of this huge diversity, this region’s plants and animals provide a basis for the production of medicine that can save millions of lives all over the world. Researchers believe that less than 0,5% of the flora species were carefully analyzed as to their medical potential. However, with the fast increase of deforestation, there is a risk of the extinction of many plants and animals before being studied, eliminating a major source of biotechnology development. 

The Amazon Rainforest also contributes economically to the life of 400 thousand families that work with extractivism. Which means the extraction of non-wood products as oils, resins, herbs, and fruits. This activity, if moderately used, doesn’t harm the environment and brings economic benefits to the local population, improving their quality of life, and maintaining people throughout the countryside.

The Amazon Rainforest has the world’s biggest carbon inventory. The volume is so large that if you think of the 10 countries that produce the most, Brazil by itself produces more than the sum of the 4º to 10º. Even being that not all Brazilian credits are “verifiable”, thinking of the current value of a carbon credit, 30 USD, Brazil would have a wealth of 1,5 trillion USD. 

The progression of the deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest

In 2019, the Amazon Rainforest deforestation has grown 34% more than the previous year. In April 2020, the states that lost most forest areas were:  Pará (32%), Mato Grosso (26%), Rondônia (19%), Amazonas (18%), Roraima (4%) e Acre (1%).

The deforestation has grown 90% in indigenous lands along with the lack of confidence that whoever is responsible would be punished. One of the biggest motivations for deforestation are the speeches of the Brazilian President and the Minister of Environment, which underestimate the severity of what is happening with the forest. 

The Amazon Rainforest deforestation is a concern for Brazil, as for the rest of the world. After all, this situation leads to meaningful changes in the functioning of the planet’s ecosystem. Besides deforestation, the burning of forests also worries the protection of the area. The IPAM researchers calculated that if deforestation keeps the accelerated cadence, almost 9 thousand square kilometers may become ashes.

The role of the forest in the ecosystem 

The forest plays a key role in the reduction of pollution levels. In natural conditions, trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere and absorb it for photosynthesis. With this process, plants derive oxygen, which is relieved in the air, and carbon, that remains within it to keep the plant growing. Due to photosynthesis, nowadays, the Amazon Rainforest storage is similar to a decade of global greenhouse gas emissions

But, because of deforestation and forest fires, around 200,000,000 tons of carbon are released into the atmosphere, which represents about 2,2% of the global emissions. To make things worse, where there used to be tropical forests, became grassland to feed cattle.

Livestock farming also releases CO2 into the atmosphere, increasing pollution levels. This business doesn’t bring environmental or economic benefits. The economic profit of extensive farming in the Amazon corresponds to only 4% if compared to sustainable wood exploration, which has proceeds of 71%.

Changing this reality 

Therefore, for an effective change to this reality, it is important and necessary that the governmental agencies intensify surveillance and that congress creates laws with stricter punishments for deforestation and forest fires. While this hasn’t happened, it is possible for citizens to contribute to diminishing the negative impacts of these practices. 

There are many projects being developed in the Amazon Rainforest, with the purpose of keeping the forest alive and diminishing deforestation. These projects have positive impacts on the environment, the social aspect, and the economic life of that population. And they are financed by the selling of carbon credits. 

The carbon credits are digital certificates that represent how much carbon dioxide (CO2) a company didn’t release in the atmosphere or how much their emissions were neutralized by social projects. Consequently, by buying 1 carbon credit you avoid 1 ton of carbon to be released, contributing to the maintenance of the forest. 

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