Amazon rainforest loss approaches new height

Within just five years, the Amazon rainforest could lose half the total forest cover that it lost in the first 20 years of this century, a recent study has revealed. Deforestation rates continue to accelerate in nearly all of the nine Amazonian countries, but especially in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia—mostly due to road development, agricultural expansion and mining.

From 2001-20, the rainforest lost 542,581 square kilometers (209,492 square miles), an area larger than Spain, according to data released in March by the Amazon Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG). Extrapolating from these past trends, the study predicted possible deforestation scenarios for the Amazon from 2021-25. In an optimistic scenario, the rainforest would lose 94,349 km2 (36,428 mi2), while a pessimistic scenario would see 237,058 km2 (91,529 mi2) cleared, an area almost the size of the United Kingdom.

"Unfortunately, we are currently witnessing the pessimistic scenario," Marlene Quintanilla, a contributor to the study, told Mongabay.

From Mongabay, May 11

Destruction of the Amazon has already accelerated to the point that the so-called "lung of the planet" is now becoming a net source of carbon.