Degradation of the Amazon Basin

Published: December 23, 2019

The Amazon basin is the world’s largest repository of biodiversity producing about twenty percent of the world’s flow of freshwater. However, it has been under threat due to deforestation and burning. Earlier in 2019, the Amazon witnessed wildfires and as per the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, the forest fires have doubled since 2013. Deforestation, comprises around two-thirds of the forest area. It started back in 1970s and 80s with the conversion of large scale forest for cattle ranch and soya cultivation.

State policies which encourage economic development have led to unintentional deforestation of the Amazon. Further, forest cleaning has been encouraged by subsidies, timber concessions and tax breaks. According to researches, when it rains on the landscape of the Amazon forest, it returns 75 recent of the moisture to the westward moving air mass. The moisture of the Amazon is vital for the continental climate system and has benefits for the Brazilian agriculture.

Loss bearing exercise

When the forests are cut down, the land is rendered barren resulting in run off and not much water is left for recycling. If deforestation continues to happen, it could eventually lead to the development of savannah in the eastern and southern portion of Amazon as these zones require minimum amount of rainfall.
The loss of forests will lead to the loss of biodiversity and will diminish the hydrological cycle. When the Amazon rainforest will not have enough water for recycling and as a result the moisture to induce rainfall, will be unable to sustain. It will lead to a situation when the forest will start to dieback. Due to dehydration, the trees will begin to die back from the leaves or root backwards.

Way Ahead

The immediate need is reforestation, particularly in the deforested region to help save the rainforests from reaching the dieback point. It can help Brazil reach its goals under the Paris Agreement. This a new vision needs to be created for Amazon to prevent an environmental disaster.

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