L'Amazoniait is an equatorial rainforest that extends over an area of over 7 million km² (about 1.75 billion acres), with a wooded area that covers about 5.5 million. The Amazon Forest, due to its extension, is known as the "Lung of the World". Its surface covers 65% of the Brazilian territory, the remaining 35% occupies territories of various nations such as: Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
With its surface, the Amazon is the largest tropical rain forest in the world, sees about 390 billion trees belonging to 16,000 different species.
In the last few days we have often heard of the fires in the Amazon, a tragedy that is consuming thousands and thousands of acres of land. Although threats to the Amazon rainforest are growing, it is important to remember that the "Great Lung of the World" has never been safe from deforestation. The main threats from the Amazon are:
- Deforestation caused byfires
- Deforestation linked to human activities
- Loss of biodiversity linked to deforestation and fires
- Loss of biodiversity linked to climate change
In the image above, deforestation on the border of the Amazon rainforest in the Maranhao region of northern Brazil. The image captures a landscape completelydeforested following activities carried out in 2016.
Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest
Deforestation directly linked to human activities was already moving towards "a point of no return". In 2018, around 17% of the Amazon rainforest had already been destroyed. Research suggested that the "must not be crossed" threshold was set at 25%.
Before the 1960s, access to the forest was severely limited, so the Amazon was safe. In the 1970s, the first real threat came with the construction of the trans-Amazonian highway. Between 1991 and 2000, the surface of the Amazon rainforest suffered a sharp decline due to agricultural and pastoral activity.
Imazon, the Brazilian forest control agency, issued an alarm in 2013. The deforestation of the Amazon rainforest he was pressing and had to act. Imazon, to monitor levels of deforestation of the Amazon, uses satellite images that allow it to patrol the area from the other, almost in real time. Between August 2012 and April 2013, the Amazon lost an area of 606 square kilometers. To get an idea of the level of deforestation who suffered theAmazonia in less than a year, 300,000 soccer fields will have to be imagined next to each other.
It is not clear what caused the increase in deforestation this year (2012-2013) but a probable cause could be dictated by the growing percentage of forest destined for cultivation and breeding. The agri-food sector is just one of the many industries that cause the loss of forest land in theAmazonia.
According to the Mondabay.com portal, the increase in deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is due to the recent changes applied to the Forest Code of Brazil. The economy plays a very important role: deforestation linked to human activities could be linked to the financial performance of Brazil. With the weakening of the Brazilian currency and other internal dynamics of the country, there has been an increase in the export of timber related toillegal.
More detailed data about the deforestation ofAmazonia linked to human activities, were disclosed by INPE, the National Space Research Agency of Brazil. In 2013 the deforestation grew by 14 percent compared to the previous year (2011-2012). Despite the limitations imposed on the deforestation, Brazil has not fulfilled its commitment to limit the damaged area to 8,000 sq for 2013.
Among other human activities that caused the surface loss of the Amazon rainforest we report the discovery of oil fields which triggered a series of activities drillingin order to extract the crude.
Another threat to theAmazon rainforestare theclimate changeswhich cause environmentalists to worry about the loss of biodiversity.
Fires of 2019
We hear about it only today but from 1 January 2019 to 23 August of the same year, the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacianal de Pesquisas Espaciais - INPE)recorded 73,336fires.
INPE began using satellites to monitor fires in the area in 2013. 50% of the fires recorded involved the surface of the Amazon rainforest within the borders of Brazil.
The finger is pointed at the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro. Under his mandate, in fact, the data relating to deforestationlinked to human activity, have seen a steady increase. The president reduced the constraints on deforestation to favor land-hungry ranchers and farmers. The land reclaimed from the Amazon rainforest was used for grazing as well as for the cultivation of feed for livestock.
Thefiresthat are occurring in the Amazon rainforest are not accidental but are intentionally caused byfarmsto take land from the forest.
The Folha de Sao Paulo reported that in the Amazonian state of Parà, the farmers' associations held a "Dia do fogo" for the first time, between 10 and 11 August, feeling strong in government tolerance.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, responds to media pressure by stating that it has no resources to put out fires.
Meanwhile, 920 square kilometers were burned in June alone, 1000 square kilometers in smoke in July. The end of August will bring an even more disastrous toll.