Loss of Biodiversity in the Amazon Rainforest
Brazil's deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has hit a six-year high, the National Space Agency, INPE, reports. The Brazilian Amazon lost about 18 trees per second in 2021 as deforestation in the country increased by more than 20 percent, according to a satellite data-based report (The Korea Times, 2022). The Mapbiomas report said the country lost about 16,557 square kilometers (1.65 million hectares) of Indigenoua vegetation in 2021. In 2020, the area lost was 13,789 square kilometers. The report stated that nearly 60 percent of land deforested in 2021 was in the Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest (BBC, 2022).
In the last three years, coinciding with the presidency of conservative, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, the amount of trees lost in Brazil was about 42,000 square kilometers. About 3,988 square kilometers (1,540 square miles) of land were cleared in the region between January and June. During the same time period, 3,088 square kilometers of the rainforest were destroyed as well (BBC, 2022).
Researchers have concluded from over three decades worth of satellite data that the health of the Amazon rainforest is deteriorating. It is said that there were signs of the loss of stability in more than 75% of the forest, with trees taking longer to recover from the effects of droughts primarily motivated by climate change and human destruction such as deforestation and fires (BBC, 2022)
At the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow last year, more than 100 governments promised to stop and reverse deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.
Impacts and threats to: Biodiversity, weather patterns, and Indigenous communities
The Amazon plays an essential role in the planet's oxygen and carbon dioxide cycles, absorbing vast amounts of greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. The Amazon is the world's largest rainforest, but its trees are sold for their wood and to clear space for crops that, in exchange, supply global food companies.
As well as being abundant in biodiversity, the area is home to communities who say they need to use the forest for mining and commercial farming to make a living. At the same time, Indigenous communities living in the Amazon fight to protect the rainforest and their ways of life.
Clearing land for farming was the inciting factor for the destruction of the Amazon, accounting for almost 97 percent, with illegal mining also a significant factor. Environmentalists accuse Bolsonaro of encouraging deforestation for economic gain, weakening research and protection agencies (BBC, 2022).
It is essential to protect Indigenous people and their rifts. The Amazon rainforest is home to about one million Indigenous people. Moreover, promoting outstanding scientific research on the importance of biodiversity loss and understanding the significance Amazon serves for the planet must be provided mainly for Brazilians. Over 600 new species of plants and animals have been discovered in the Amazon (BBC, 2022). However, these species are often discovered after their habitats have been destroyed or are already at risk—investing in more scientific research programs such as Tatiana de Carvalho, a scholarship program for students researching the Amazon (BBC, 2022). Without access to research or study, there will be little to no knowledge of the risks of biodiversity loss.
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the world’s most fascinating works of nature, until you realize that the work of nature is slowly being destroyed by a conservative politician and the effects of climate change. As we learn more about this great forest, we will also learn more about how to protect it from humans: a species more dangerous than anything you will find in the Amazonian tree tops.